Pope Francis Leads Benedict XVI's Funeral

Pope Francis on Thursday presided over the funeral mass for former Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who died on Saturday morning at the age of 95, bringing an end to a days-long memorial as thousands of mourners attended the ceremony in St. Peter's Square.

Pope Francis Leads Benedict XVI's Funeral
Image credit: Reuters [via Daily Mail]

Facts

  • Pope Francis on Thursday presided over the funeral mass for former Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who died on Saturday morning at the age of 95, bringing an end to a days-long memorial as thousands of mourners attended the ceremony in St. Peter's Square.
  • In a short homily honoring Benedict, Francis called the late pope a "faithful friend" of Jesus and recalled how Jesus' last words summed up the "ceaseless self-entrustment" to God that had defined Benedict's life.
  • The funeral, the first ever for a pope who resigned, was similar to that of a reigning pope but with some modifications and was reportedly attended by some 50K people. As Benedict's coffin was transported through the Basilica to the first tomb of John Paul II, the crowd chanted "Santo Subito," which is a call to anoint him a saint.
  • Airspace around the Holy See has been closed off for the day and over 1k Italian security personnel were deployed to help safeguard the event, though only Italy and Germany sent official delegations as Benedict was no longer a head of state when he died.
  • Benedict XVI, elected to succeed John Paul II as pope in 2005, led the Catholic Church for almost eight years until he retired due to ill health in 2013, becoming the first Pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415.
  • The last time a reigning pope blessed his predecessor before burial was in 1802 when Pius VII brought the remains of Pius VI, who died in 1799 while in exile in France as a prisoner of Napoleon, back to Rome to hold a solemn funeral.

Sources: FOX News, New York Times, CNN, Independent, BBC News, and Vatican.

Narratives

  • Narrative A, as provided by Economist. Pope Benedict was a revered teacher, a theologian, and a resolute conservative. His shocking resignation in 2013 was an extraordinary act of humility, which humanized the papacy. Not only will he be remembered as the first pope to step down, but also the first to tackle sexual abuse scandals in the church. After his resignation, Benedict remained a powerful conservative influence and continued to give his soul to a legacy that will forever stand.
  • Narrative B, as provided by Daily Beast. A hard-line conservative, Benedict XVI did accrue major achievements during his papal tenure, including the courageous act of resigning and kick-starting Vatican Bank reforms, but he failed to successfully combat the church's greatest crisis –clerical child abuse. Despite having enormous power to end internal corruption, he became a prisoner of indecision and abided by the Roman Curia's brotherhood.
  • Narrative C, as provided by BBC News. Pope Benedict's death could reshape the Catholic Church. The Vatican has had a pope and an ex-pope since Benedict retired in 2013. With Benedict's passing, a sitting pope will preside over his predecessor's funeral, and the Church will not elect a pontiff — a first. Eventually, the Church may have to normalize the resignation of a pope and set new protocols in the event of an ex-Pope's demise.

Predictions