Pope Francis presides over the funeral of Pope Benedict

At 86, Francis, who uses a wheelchair but shows no signs of slowing down with planned trips to Africa and Portugal in the coming months, is now a year older than Benedict when he retired.

Francis himself has made it clear that he would not hesitate to resign one day if his mental or physical health prevented him from fulfilling his duties, but Vatican officials always doubted that he could do so while Benedict was still alive .

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An account of Benedict’s papacy was placed in his coffin along with other items, including Vatican coins minted during his reign. The report, written in Latin, said Benedict fought “with determination” against sexual abuse by clergy in the church.

Although Benedict largely avoided public appearances after his resignation, he remained a standard-bearer for Catholic conservatives alienated by reforms introduced by Francis, including the crackdown on the ancient Latin mass.

After the service, the coffin was wrapped in red ribbons in the shape of a cross. Workers later placed it in a zinc casket and soldered it shut, Vatican pictures showed. Both were then placed in a wooden coffin which was lowered into a crypt.

People from all over the world, many from Benedikt’s native Germany, had come to say goodbye in the early hours of the morning, including some heads of state and some European royalty.

Pope Francis, center, begins a funeral mass as the coffin of the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. placed in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican.

Pope Francis, center, begins a funeral mass as the coffin of the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. placed in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican.Credit:AP

“It is a sad but meaningful day. I wanted to be here so badly that I can feel it in my heart,” said an Italian, who used only her first name, Marianna.

Dorotea Dadaeki, a Rwandan woman living in Rome, said: “I told myself that I must come and attend Holy Mass to join him in prayer.”

Xavier Mora, 24, a Spaniard preparing for the priesthood, said he studied Benedict’s theology and had “great affection and esteem for him”.

About 200,000 people streamed past Benedict’s body while it lay in state for three days through Wednesday evening.

Benedict XVI was elected Pope in 2005.

Benedict XVI was elected Pope in 2005.Credit:AP

The service began with 12 pallbearers carrying the coffin containing Benedict’s remains out of the basilica to the sound of bells and placing them on the ground in front of the largest church in Christianity. Bells also rang in German cities.

The last time a sitting pope officiated at the funeral of a predecessor was in 1802, when Pius VII conducted the service for Pius VI. whose body returned to the Vatican in exile after his death in 1799.

In his homily, Francis used more than a dozen biblical references and church writings in which he seemed to compare Benedict to Jesus, including his last words before dying on the cross: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

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During the Mass, concelebrated by 125 cardinals, 200 bishops and some 3,700 priests, Francis spoke of the “wisdom, tenderness and devotion that he has bestowed on us over the years”.

Mentioning Benedict in the last line, he said, “Benedict, faithful friend of the bridegroom, (Jesus), may your joy be complete when you hear his voice, now and forever!”

In tweets, author Rod Dreher, an influential figure in US Christian conservatives, called the sermon “appalling.” Turner lamented “the meanness, the avarice of today’s meager words of Francis”.

At his request, Benedict was buried in the underground grottoes of the Vatican, in the niche where Pope John XXIII was first buried. And then John Paul II were interred before their remains were transferred to more prominent locations in the basilica above.

Reuters

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https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/santo-subito-supporters-demand-sainthood-for-benedict-as-pope-francis-leads-funeral-20230106-p5capk.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_world Pope Francis presides over the funeral of Pope Benedict

Callan Tansill

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