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University president mourns passing of Pope Benedict XVI

University President Fr. John Jenkins mourned the loss of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in a press release Saturday. Pope Benedict died Saturday in Vatican City at the age of 95.

“Notre Dame joins the Church and the world in mourning the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict,” Jenkins said. “At once a luminous scholar and a devoted laborer in the vineyard of the Lord, Pope Benedict gave witness to the complementarity of faith and reason for a world which so often misunderstands both.”

According to the release, Jenkins was familiar with Pope Benedict, having met him briefly in 2006 and attending an address by the Pope in 2008. 

“There was an expression of gratitude and appreciation for everyone in the room involved in Catholic education,” Jenkins said of the 2008 address. “He spoke of education as being central to the life of the Church and, of course, that is what Notre Dame is all about. It was a great affirmation of our central mission.”

According to the release, Notre Dame’s relationship with Pope Benedict XVI began in the 1960s, when then-University President, Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, offered a faculty position to the future Pope, then Fr. Joseph Ratzinger.

“I was searching around the world for an up-and-coming theologian,” Hesburgh said in an interview with the South Bend Tribune shortly after Benedict was elected Pope. 

According to Hesburgh, however, the German theologian declined the position because he did not think his English was adequate.

To commemorate the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict, Notre Dame’s Basilica of the Sacred Heart tolled its bells for 15 minutes Saturday morning. In addition, a photo of the Pope Emeritus and a condolences book are in place in the Basilica. 

Jenkins expressed gratitude for Pope Benedict’s life in the news release and prayed for him.

“I pray in thanksgiving for Pope Benedict’s life and I hope that he will intercede for us from Heaven,” he said.