(Reuters) - Following are reactions to the death of former Pope Benedict, who was the first pontiff in 600 years to resign from the post rather than rule for life:
GERMAN CHANCELLOR OLAF SCHOLZ ON TWITTER:
"As a "German" #Pope, #BenedictXVI was a special church leader for many, not only in this country. The world is losing a formative figure of the Catholic Church, a forthright personality and a clever theologian. My thoughts are with Pope Francis."
MARKUS SOEDER, PREMIER OF BENEDICT'S HOME STATE OF BAVARIA:
"We mourn the death of our Bavarian Pope.... With him, society loses a convincing representative of the Catholic Church as well as one of the most influential theologians of the 20th century. In turbulent and challenging times, he was the religious leader of the Catholic faithful. Many people in his homeland will remember him with gratitude not only as Pope Benedict XVI, but also as a humble pastor ... His visit of several days to Bavaria as the new Pope, expressing his love for the country and its people, is unforgettable. He always carried his homeland in his heart."
ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER GIORGIA MELONI:
"Benedict XVI was a giant of faith and reason. A man in love with the Lord who put his life at the service of the Universal Church and has spoken, and will continue to speak, to the hearts and minds of people with the spiritual, cultural and intellectual depth of his Magisterium. A Christian, a pastor, a theologian: a great man whom history will not forget."
U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL ANTONIO GUTERRES:
"Principled in his faith, tireless in his pursuit of peace, and determined in his defence of human rights, he was a spiritual guide to millions across the world and one of the leading academic theologians of our time...His powerful calls for solidarity with marginalized people everywhere and his urgent appeals to close the widening gap between rich and poor are more relevant than ever."
FRENCH PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON
"My thoughts go out to Catholics in France and around the world, bereaved by the departure of His Holiness Benedict XVI, who worked with all his soul and intelligence for a more fraternal world."
POLISH PRESIDENT ANDRZEJ DUDA:
"Pope Benedict XVI has gone to our Father's House. Today the world has lost one of the greatest theologians of the 20th and 21st centuries, a close collaborator of St. John Paul II. His life, works and pastoral ministry are a signpost among many winding and deceptive roads of modern times. RIP"
OUTGOING BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT JAIR BOLSONARO:
"Although his pontificate was short, he leaves an immense legacy for the Catholic Church, for all Christians and for humanity ... In defense of the truth of the Gospel, he fearlessly criticized the errors of the so-called 'liberation theology,' which intends to mix up Christianity with erroneous concepts of Marxism."
LEO VARADKAR, IRISH PRIME MINISTER:
"Leading the Catholic Church for almost a decade, the son of a police officer & a cook, the first German elected as Pope in one thousand years, he was ultimately a ‘humble worker in vineyard of the Lord’.
CARDINAL VINCENT NICHOLS, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF WESTMINSTER:
"He will be remembered as one of the great theologians of the 20th century. I remember with particular affection the remarkable Papal Visit to these lands in 2010."
PATRIARCH KIRILL, HEAD OF THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH
"The absolute authority of Benedict XVI as an outstanding theologian allowed him to make a significant contribution to the development of inter-Christian cooperation ... and to the protection of traditional moral values.
"During the papacy of Benedict XVI, the relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church developed significantly in the spirit of fraternal cooperation and the desire to interact on how to overcome the sometimes painful legacy of the past."
JUSTIN WELBY, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY AND LEADER OF THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION:
"Pope Benedict was one of the greatest theologians of his age – committed to the faith of the Church and stalwart in its defence. In all things, not least in his writing and his preaching, he looked to Jesus Christ, the image of the invisible God. It was abundantly clear that Christ was the root of his thought and the basis of his prayer."
BRITAIN'S KING CHARLES
"I .. recall his constant efforts to promote peace and goodwill to all people, and to strengthen the relationship between the global Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church."
CARDINAL ODILO SCHERER, ARCHBISHOP OF SAO PAULO:
"Benedict XVI was a simple, humble, sensitive and even shy man, very attentive and refined in his dealings with people. He was an intellectual and theologian of great depth, and his writings and homilies will certainly be a point of reference for the Church in the future."
(Reporting by Reuters bureaus; Compiled by Andrew Heavens and Louise Heavens; Editing by Frances Kerry)