Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in 2012. (Pier Paolo Cito/AP)

World leaders pay tribute to Benedict XVI, the pope emeritus, who died Saturday in the Vatican at the age of 95.

Benedict, who was the first pontiff in nearly 600 years to step down from his post, rather than hold office for life, died on Saturday, according to a statement from The Vatican.

“Sadden to learn of the death of His Holiness Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI”, The President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola tweeted Saturday.

“Europe mourns him. May he rest in peace.”

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission said on Saturday that the former pope “sent a strong signal with his resignation”.

“The death of Pope Benedict XVI saddens me. My sympathy goes out to all Catholics,” von der Leyen said in a Tweeter, adding: “He sent a strong signal with his resignation. He saw himself first as a servant of God and his Church.

“Once his physical strength waned, he continued to serve through the power of his prayers,” she continued.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also paid tribute. “I am saddened to learn of the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI,” Sunak tweeted on Saturday.

“He was a great theologian whose visit to the UK in 2010 was a historic moment for Catholics and non-Catholics across our country.

“My thoughts are with Catholics in the UK and around the world today,” Sunak added.

Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the UK Parliament said: “On behalf of the UK House of Commons, I wish to express my heartfelt condolences and sadness at the news of the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict.”

The new Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni expressed his admiration for the former pope.

“Benedict XVI was a giant of faith and reason. He put his life at the service of the universal Church and spoke, and will continue to speak, to the hearts and minds of men with the spiritual, cultural and intellectual depth of his Magisterium,” she added. tweeted Saturday.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella described Pope Benedict as an “unforgettable figure for the Italian people”, saying Italy was in “mourning” over his death.

His kindness and wisdom have been a blessing “to our community and the entire international community,” Mattarella said in a statement on Saturday.

“With dedication, he continued to serve the cause of his Church in the unprecedented capacity of Pope Emeritus with humility and serenity.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the former pope “was a special church leader to many”.

“As a ‘German’ pope, Benedict XVI was a special church leader to many, not just in this country. The world is losing a formative figure in the Catholic Church, an argumentative personality and an intelligent theologian. My thoughts are with Pope Francis,” Scholz tweeted.

Reacting to the death of Benoît, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer tweeted“Together, we Catholics mourn the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

“He was a remarkable historical figure, a great scholar even at a young age. Benedict XVI was one of the few leaders of the German-speaking Church and the first pope of modern times, who resigned his office from his own will.

“He had a particularly valued relationship with Austria; I remember well his visit to our country in 2007. May he rest in peace,” Nehammer added.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday his “thoughts” were with Catholics around the world following the death of the former pope.

“My thoughts are with Catholics in France and around the world, bereaved by the departure of His Holiness Benedict XVI, who worked with soul and intelligence for a more fraternal world,” said Emmanuel Macron. tweeted.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Catholics around the world have lost “an important spiritual and intellectual leader”.

“With the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the Roman Catholic Church and all Catholics around the world lose an important spiritual and intellectual leader. We remember him with respect,” Rutte said. tweeted.

Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela also sent its condolences to the Holy See on behalf of the Government of Malta in a Tweeteradding: “The people of Malta remember His Holiness’ visit, where he conveyed a message of unity.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the former pope will be remembered for his “rich service to society”.

“Saddened by the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who dedicated his whole life to the Church and to the teachings of the Lord Christ. He will be remembered for his rich service to society. My thoughts are with the millions around the world who mourn his passing,” Modi said in a Tweeter.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he was “saddened” by the death of the former pope.

“Saddened to learn of the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI tonight. May he rest in eternal peace,” Albanese tweeted.

Russian President Vladimir Putinwho is leading Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, called the former pope “a fervent defender of traditional Christian values”.

“I had the opportunity to communicate with this exceptional person, and I will forever have the best memories of him. I would like to send you the words of sincere sympathy in this painful hour”, he added.

CNN’s Stephanie Halasz contributed reporting.

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