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The man once known as Josef Cardinal Ratzinger of Germany and regarded as the Catholic church’s most brilliant and influential theologian of the late 20th century, who later became Pope Benedict XVI, was laid to rest at the Vatican last week at age 95.

Citing age and diminishing mental agility, he had resigned the papacy in 2013, the first pope to do so voluntarily since Celestine V in 1294,.and thus he died as “pope emeritus” during the reign of his successor, Pope Francis.

John Patrick Grace covered the Vatican for The Associated Press from 1968 to 1973 during the reign of Pope Paul VI. He writes this column from his home in eastern Cabell County.

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