Faithful mourn Benedict XVI at funeral presided over by pope


VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis joined tens of 1000’s of trustworthy in bidding farewell to Benedict XVI at a uncommon requiem Mass Thursday for a lifeless pope presided over by a dwelling one, ending an unprecedented decade for the Catholic Church that was sparked by the German theologian’s resolution to retire.

Bells tolled and the gang applauded as pallbearers carried Benedict’s cypress coffin out of the fog-shrouded St. Peter’s Basilica and positioned it earlier than the altar within the sq. exterior. Sporting the crimson vestments typical of papal funerals, Francis opened the service with a prayer and closed it by solemnly blessing the straightforward casket — adorned solely with the previous pope’s coat of arms.

In between, Francis made solely fleeting reference to Benedict in his homily, providing a meditation on Christ as an alternative of a eulogy of his predecessor’s legacy earlier than the casket was sealed and entombed within the basilica grotto.

Heads of state and royalty, clergy from around the globe and 1000’s of standard folks flocked to the subdued ceremony, regardless of Benedict’s request for simplicity and official efforts to maintain the primary funeral for a pope emeritus in trendy instances low-key.

Many mourners hailed from Benedict’s native Bavaria and donned conventional costume, together with boiled wool coats to protect towards the morning chill.

“We came to pay homage to Benedict and wanted to be here today to say goodbye,” stated Raymond Mainar, who traveled from a small village east of Munich for the funeral. “He was a very good pope.”

Ignoring exhortations for decorum on the finish, some within the crowd held banners or shouted “Santo Subito!” — “Sainthood Now!” — echoing the spontaneous chants that erupted throughout St. John Paul II’s 2005 funeral.

The previous Joseph Ratzinger, who died Dec. 31 at age 95, is taken into account one of many twentieth century’s biggest theologians and spent his lifetime upholding church doctrine. However he’ll go down in historical past for a singular, revolutionary act that modified the way forward for the papacy: He retired, the primary pope in six centuries to take action.

Francis has praised Benedict’s braveness in stepping apart, saying it “opened the door” for different popes to do the identical.

Some 50,000 folks attended Thursday’s Mass, in line with the Vatican, after round 200,000 paid their respects throughout three days of public viewing.

Solely Italy and Germany had been invited to ship official delegations, however different leaders took the Vatican up on its supply and got here of their “private capacity.” They included a number of heads of state, not less than 4 prime ministers and two delegations of royal representatives. As well as, a bunch of patriarchs joined 125 cardinals within the seats to the aspect of the altar, and the Russian Orthodox Church despatched its overseas envoy.

Amongst these attending was Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen, who was given particular court docket permission to attend the funeral. Zen was detained in Might on suspicion of colluding with overseas forces below China’s nationwide safety legislation after he fell afoul of authorities over his participation in a now-silenced democracy motion. His passport was revoked when he was detained.

Benedict’s shut confidants had been additionally in attendance, and the previous pope’s longtime secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, bent down and kissed a e book of the Gospels that was left open on the coffin earlier than the ceremony started.

Matteo Colonna, a 20-year-old seminarian from Teramo, Italy, stated he got here partly due to the historic nature of the funeral — but additionally as a result of it had private resonance for him.

“The first spark of my vocation started under the pontificate of Benedict, but then it became even stronger under Pope Francis,” Colonna stated, whereas sitting in prayer in St. Peter’s Sq. at daybreak. “I see a continuity between these two popes and the fact that today Francis is celebrating the funeral in Benedict’s memory is an historical event.”

However the service was additionally important for what it lacked: the sensation of uncertainty that will usually accompany the passing of a pope earlier than a brand new one is elected. As a substitute, with Francis in place, Benedict’s dying marked the tip of a decade through which a reigning pope lived alongside a retired one.

“Benedict has been the bridge between John Paul and Francis,” stated Alessandra Aprea, a 56-year-old from Meta di Sorrento close to Naples. “We could not have Francis without him.”

Early Thursday the Vatican launched the official historical past of Benedict’s life, a brief doc in Latin that was positioned in a steel cylinder in his coffin earlier than it was sealed, together with the cash and medallions minted throughout his papacy and his pallium stoles.

The doc gave ample consideration to Benedict’s historic resignation and referred to him as “pope emeritus,” citing verbatim the Latin phrases he uttered on Feb. 11, 2013, when he introduced he would retire.

The doc, generally known as a “rogito” or deed, additionally cited his theological and papal legacy, together with his outreach to Anglicans and Jews and his efforts to fight clergy sexual abuse “continually calling the church to conversion, prayer, penance and purification.”

Francis didn’t point out Benedict’s particular legacy in his homily and solely uttered his identify as soon as, within the remaining line, delivering as an alternative a meditation on Jesus’ willingness to entrust himself to God’s will.

“Holding fast to the Lord’s last words and to the witness of his entire life, we too, as an ecclesial community, want to follow in his steps and to commend our brother into the hands of the Father,” Francis stated.

Throughout St. John Paul II’s quarter-century as pope, Ratzinger spearheaded a crackdown on dissent as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Religion, taking motion towards the left-leaning liberation theology that unfold in Latin America within the Seventies and towards dissenting theologians and nuns who didn’t toe the Vatican’s exhausting line on issues like sexual morals.

His legacy was marred by the clergy sexual abuse disaster, although he acknowledged sooner than most the “filth” of clergymen who raped kids, and really laid the groundwork for the Holy See to punish them.

As cardinal and pope, he handed sweeping church laws that resulted in 848 clergymen being defrocked from 2004 to 2014, roughly his hold forth with a 12 months on both finish. However abuse survivors nonetheless held him accountable, for failing to sanction any bishop who moved abusers round, refusing to mandate the reporting of intercourse crimes to police and figuring out him as embodying the clerical system that lengthy protected the establishment over victims.

Mike McDonnell of the U.S. abuse survivor group SNAP stated whereas Benedict handed new canon legal guidelines, he might have achieved much more to affect John Paul to take agency motion. Referring to Benedict’s nickname as “God’s Rottweiler,” he stated: “In our in our view, it was a dog bark without a bite. Certainly he could have done more.”

A gaggle representing German clergy abuse survivors referred to as on German officers attending Benedict’s funeral to demand extra motion from the Vatican on sexual abuse. Eckiger Tisch requested leaders to demand that Francis concern a “universal church law” stipulating zero tolerance in coping with abuse by clergy.

The funeral ritual itself is modeled on the code used for lifeless popes however with some modifications given Benedict was not a reigning pontiff when he died.

After the Mass, Benedict’s cypress coffin was positioned inside a zinc one, then an outer oak casket earlier than being entombed within the crypt within the grottoes beneath St. Peter’s Basilica that after held the John Paul’s tomb earlier than it was moved upstairs.

Whereas Thursday’s Mass was uncommon, it does have some precedent: In 1802, Pope Pius VII presided over the funeral in St. Peter’s of his predecessor, Pius VI, who had died in exile in France in 1799 as a prisoner of Napoleon.

Related Press journalist Trisha Thomas contributed.

Comply with AP’s protection of Pope Benedict XVI at

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