Pope Francis presides over the funeral of former pontiff Benedict

Pope Francis led the funeral of his predecessor Benedict XVI in entrance of tens of hundreds of mourners in St. Peter’s Sq. on Thursday, an occasion unprecedented in trendy instances.

Purple-robed cardinals, dignitaries and hundreds of clergymen and nuns from all over the world gathered to say goodbye to the German theologian, who shocked the Catholic Church in 2013 by turning into the primary pontiff in six centuries to resign.

For the primary time in trendy historical past, the choir was led by a sitting Pope Francis, who delivered a homily in Italian as a part of a multilingual service alongside the Latin Mass.

“Benedict… might your pleasure be full as you hear his (God’s) voice, now and eternally!” the pontiff mentioned in tribute to his predecessor, who died final Saturday on the age of 95.

On the finish of the service, Francis crossed Benedict’s easy cypress coffin and bowed his head, earlier than 12 pallbearers in fits carried it into St Peter’s Basilica.

Benedict will likely be buried in a tomb within the crypt beneath the basilica, the place the physique of John Paul II lay earlier than it was moved for his beatification in 2011. He was declared a saint in 2014.

Born Joseph Ratzinger, the previous pope has not been head of state for a decade, however world leaders together with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Giorgio Meloni have been amongst these in attendance.

An estimated 50,000 individuals have been within the sq. for the funeral, in line with police, lots of whom had been queuing since daybreak to say their goodbyes.

“Benedict is a bit like my father, so I needed to pay tribute to him,” mentioned Cristina Grisanti, a 59-year-old from Milan, who hailed the previous pope’s “purity, his sincerity, his gentleness.”

An estimated 195,000 individuals had already paid their respects earlier when the physique lay in state.

Benedict was the primary German pope in 1,000 years and church bells rang throughout Germany because the funeral ended on Thursday, whereas many Germans have been additionally on the Vatican.

“We owe him a lot. We need to present that we stand behind him,” mentioned Benedikt Rothweiler, 34, who got here from Aachen along with his household.

“We really know too little about Benedict. He all the time accepted every little thing as God desires. It is a good instance for us individuals.”

– Two Popes –

Benedict was an excellent theologian however a divisive determine who alienated many Catholics along with his staunch protection of conservative doctrine on points resembling abortion.

His eight years on the helm of the worldwide Catholic Church have additionally been marked by crises, from the battle within the Vatican to the worldwide clerical sexual abuse scandal and its cover-up.

When he resigned, Benedict mentioned he now not had the “self-control and physique” vital for the duty, retiring to a quiet life in a monastery within the Vatican gardens.

His demise dropped at an finish the unprecedented state of affairs wherein two “males in white” – he and Francis – lived in a small city-state.

He and Francis, an Argentine Jesuit, have been mentioned to have gotten on nicely, however Benedict’s later interventions meant he remained the standard-bearer of conservative Catholics who disliked his successor’s extra liberal stance.

The final time a pope presided over the funeral of his predecessor was in 1802, when Pius VII carried out the ceremony for Pius VI – however the circumstances have been very completely different.

Pius VI died in exile in 1799, as a prisoner of France, and was buried in Valence. His successor exhumed his stays and returned them to Italy, earlier than being honored at a papal funeral in St Peter’s Basilica.

– European royal households –

Aside from St. Peter, most of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics have been anticipated to look at the funeral on tv and radio.

In a lot of the Catholic Philippines, church buildings held memorial plenty for the previous pontiff, together with at Malolos Cathedral close to the capital, Manila.

“It is an indescribable feeling to witness this,” mentioned Cherry Castro, 67, who was amongst about 500 gathered for the particular ceremony.

Portugal declared a nationwide day of mourning on Thursday, whereas in Italy flags on public buildings are flying at half-mast.

The one official delegations have been from Germany and Italy.

However different dignitaries, together with the Belgian and Spanish royal households, the presidents of Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Hungary, Slovenia and Togo, and the prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Gabon and Slovakia, amongst others, attended of their private capability.

The service adopted conventional papal funerals, with just a few modifications to the prayers and readings to replicate Benedict’s standing as pope emeritus.

Earlier than he was laid to relaxation within the crypt, his cypress coffin needed to be positioned first in a zinc coffin after which in a wood chest.

As is conventional, subsequent to his physique will likely be positioned cash and medals minted throughout his papacy and a written textual content describing his hold forth, sealed in a metallic cylinder.


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