He led the Catholic Church for less than eight years until, in 2013, he became the first Pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415.
Benedict spent his final years at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery within the walls of the Vatican.
His successor Pope Francis said he had visited him there frequently.
The Vatican said in a statement: “With sorrow, I inform you that the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, passed away today at 9:34 in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican.
In 2022, an independent report in his native Germany alleged that Benedict had failed to take action in four abuse cases when he was Archbishop of Munich between 1977-1982.
Shaken by the report, he acknowledged in an emotional personal letter that errors had occurred and asked for forgiveness. His lawyers argued in a detailed rebuttal that he was not directly to blame.
Victim’s groups said the couched response squandered an opportunity from a scandal that rattled the Church worldwide.
Benedict will be best remembered for shocking the world on Feb. 11, 2013, when he announced in Latin that he was resigning, telling cardinals he was too old and frail to lead an institution with more than 1.3 billion members.
It was always going to be tough following his charismatic predecessor Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005, and Benedict admitted to difficulties in an emotional farewell.