STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton released the following statement upon the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI:

“We have just lost a good and faithful shepherd who has gone to the Lord Jesus Christ and we give thanks to God for his dedicated service. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI gave us hope in a church throughout his care as chief shepherd.

“I’m grateful to have had the privilege to visit with him at the end of what we called “Baby Bishop School” in 2012. In fact, he was very cordial. When I thanked the pope for appointing me Bishop of Steubenville, he smiled and said, “Steubenville, you have the university.” He had visited the university as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

“His pastoral care and humility are a lesson, not just for religious and clergy, but for all Christians.

“Many of the reforms of the Holy See that were completed by Pope Francis were inaugurated by Pope Benedict, which recognized the continuity between papacies.

“His three publications ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ are necessary, spiritual and academic reads, and no serious theological library is complete without them.

Bishop Monforton will celebrate Mass for the peaceful repose of the soul of Pope Emeritus XVI at Holy Rosary Church, Steubenville, Thursday Jan. 5, at 10 a.m. All parishes, schools and institutions in the diocese are asked to pray for the deceased former pontiff.