Pope Francis grateful for ‘noble’ Benedict and his prayers

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VATICAN CITY — Hours after the dying Saturday of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Pope Francis praised his “noble” predecessor and expressed gratitude for his life of religion and prayers, particularly these supplied within the almost 10 years for the reason that shy churchman dramatically grew to become the primary pontiff in centuries to retire from the papacy.

In his first public feedback about Benedict for the reason that Vatican introduced his midmorning dying within the monastery the place the previous pontiff lived out his final years, Francis spoke of his emotions over the passing, including to tributes that poured in for his predecessor all through the day.

Throughout his homily at a New Yr’s Eve Vespers service in St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis stated “thoughts go spontaneously to the very dear Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who this morning left us.”

“With deep feeling, we recall his person, so noble, so gentle,’’ Francis said. “And we feel in the heart so much gratitude: gratitude to God for having given him to the Church and to the world,” the pope stated. “Gratitude to him, for all the good he did, and above all for his witness of faith and of prayer, especially in these last years of withdrawn life.

“Only God knows the value and the strength of his intercession, of his sacrifices offered for the good of the Church,’’ Francis said, speaking softly.

Earlier, the Vatican said Benedict will have the simple funeral he wanted, when Francis on Thursday morning will celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Square.

The 95-year-old Benedict died Saturday morning in the Vatican monastery where he had resided since shortly after shocking the world by retiring in 2013. Benedict had been frail for years, and the Vatican three days earlier had said Benedict’s health was worsening to his age.

Within minutes of the announcement, words of praise and fond remembrance were offered by world leaders and religious figures, including the U.S. President Joe Biden, the archbishop of Canterbury and Jewish advocates.

“Jill and I join Catholics around the world, and so many others, in mourning the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI,” Biden stated in a written assertion. “I had the privilege of spending time with Pope Benedict at the Vatican in 2011 and will always remember his generosity and welcome as well as our meaningful conversation.

Biden also recalled Benedict’s 2008 visit to the White House, saying the then pontiff had remarked that “’the need for global solidarity is as urgent as ever, if all people are to live in a way worthy of their dignity.’ May his focus on the ministry of charity continue to be an inspiration to us all.”

However another Catholics, together with LGBTQ+ advocates, have been restrained in marking the passing of 95-year-old Benedict, Earlier than being elected pontiff in 2005, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger he had lengthy served because the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog, making certain unwavering orthodoxy on points together with gay exercise, which the Catholic church considers a sin.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni stated of the funeral that “following the desire of the pope emeritus, (it) will be carried out in the sign of simplicity.”

Benedict spent two extra years in papal retirement than within the precise papacy, which had begun in 2005. Benedict died within the austere Vatican monastery the place he had resided since shortly after surprising the world by retiring in 2013.

Whereas pope, Benedict was head of state, for the reason that Vatican is an impartial metropolis state. However with no such function on the time of his dying, the Vatican’s funeral particulars mirrored a scaling again of pomp and protocol.

Solely official delegations from Italy and Benedict’s native Germany have been invited to the funeral, though a letter from the Vatican’s secretariat of state famous that “authorities from other countries who wish to may participate in a private capacity.”

With Benedict out of the general public’s eye for almost a decade, the turnout of the trustworthy for the out of doors funeral was additionally anticipated to be diminished, definitely in comparison with the outpouring of trustworthy for the final funeral of a reigning pope — St. John Paul II in 2005.

Safety officers in Rome have been estimating that 60,000 folks will flock to Thursday’s funeral, Italian state tv stated. For John Paul, an estimated 300,000 mourners gathered at his funeral.

Beginning on Monday morning, the trustworthy will have the ability to file by his physique in St. Peter’s Basilica, and viewing can even be held on Tuesday and Wednesday.

In a putting distinction to the statements of sorrow over Benedict’s dying, lots of of vacationers in St. Peter’s Sq. rushed to catch a glimpse of Francis, as an aide pushed his wheelchair so he may view the life-sized creche scene and pray silently in entrance of it, in a Vatican custom.

Vacationers and Romans snapped photographs and screamed in delight, and a Vatican band performed “Silent Night” because the pope, who has a knee ligament drawback, rolled by, and coloured lights flashed on a towering Christmas tree.

Hours earlier, by electronic mail and broadcast, the Holy See introduced that Benedict had died. “This is Vatican Radio. We are interrupting our regular transmissions to announce with grief and emotion that the Pope Emeritus has returned to the home of his father.”

At that midmorning hour, lots of of vacationers have been admiring a towering Christmas tree within the sq., many unaware that Benedict had died in his secluded residence within the Vatican Gardens.

Benedict “prayed in silence, as one should do,” stated Fabrizio Giambrone, a vacationer from Sicily who recalled the late pontiff as a ”excellent particular person” who lacked the “charisma” of his predecessor, St. John Paul II, and of his successor, Pope Francis.

Whereas the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica didn’t toll to mark the dying announcement, within the somber air within the small Bavarian city the place Ratzinger was born in 1927, church bells tolled solemnly at St. Oswald Church in Marktl am Inn, a German city close to the Austrian border.

In Krakow, considered one of Poland’s oldest and largest church bells that’s used to mark occasions of nationwide significance, the Sigismund Bell, tolled at midday, and a particular Mass for Benedict was deliberate for that metropolis’s Wawel Citadel Cathedral in Benedict’s honor afterward Saturday.

Poland is a closely Roman Catholic nation the place a conservative authorities is in energy. President Andrzej Duda tweeted that Benedict is “one of the most outstanding theologians of the 20th and 21st century.” He known as Benedict’s teachings a “guidepost among the many winding and deceptive paths of the contemporary world.”

The American Jewish Committee in a press release from New York praised Benedict for having “continued the path of reconciliation and friendship with world Jewry blazed by his predecessor, John Paul II.” The group famous that the German-born Catholic church chief had “paid homage in Auschwitz” to the victims of the Holocaust and had made an official go to to Israel.

“He condemned antisemitism as a sin against God and man, and he emphasized the unique relationship between Christianity and Judaism,” the assertion stated.

Reward for Benedict’s non secular devotion got here from the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. “In his life and ministry, Pope Benedict XVI directed people to Christ,” the Anglican chief tweeted.

U.N. Secretary-Normal António Guterres stated that Benedict’s “urgent appeals to close the widening gap between rich and poor are more relevant than ever.”

Dubbed “God’s Rottweiller” for his fierce protection of Catholic educating within the many years that he led the Vatican doctrinal orthodoxy workplace, Benedict was seen much less enthusiastically by some for his stance on homosexuality and towards ladies’s need to interrupt with the church’s ban on feminine clergymen.

Francis DeBernardo, government director of the U.S.-based New Methods Ministry, which advocates for LGBTQ+ Catholics famous that Ratzinger in 1986 helped form a doc that known as gay orientation as ”an goal dysfunction” and cited his involvement with a 1994 Catechism describing sexual exercise between folks of the identical gender as “acts of grave depravity.”

“Those documents caused — and still cause — grave pastoral harm” to many LGBTQ+ folks, DeBernardo stated, whereas noting that his group was praying for the repose of Benedict’s soul.

Francis has used his papacy to attempt to set a much less judgmental tone towards homosexual Catholics.

Whereas hailing Benedict’s “profound example of humility and willingness to overturn tradition” by resigning, advocates for opening up the priesthood to ladies expressed dismay over his refusal to embrace their goals.

“His relentless pursuit to stifle the movement for women’s ordination revealed a man unwilling or unable to engage with the urgent needs of the church today,” stated Kate McElwee, government director of the Girls’s Ordination Convention.

Nicola Zolezzi, 58, on trip from Genoa, Italy, along with his household, stated he was sorry to be taught of Benedict’s dying.

“Maybe he wasn’t that close to the people like Francis or John Paul II, but I think he was a good person and carried out his role well,” he stated.

Nonetheless, Zolezzi added that “we still wonder what was the real reason behind his decision to leave.”

Benedict had defined that he was relinquishing the papacy as a result of he felt he know longer had the energy to adequately shepherd the Catholic church and its then 1.2 billion members.

Paolo Santalucia in Vatican Metropolis, Monika Scislowska in Warsaw, Poland, and Geir Moulson in Berlin, contributed to this story.

Observe AP’s protection of the dying of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at https://apnews.com/hub/pope-benedict-xvi

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