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Pope Francis Presides Over Pope Benedict's Funeral In Vatican City

Benedict was the leader of the church’s conservative wing and is considered one of the world’s greatest theologians.
Posted at 6:06 PM, Jan 05, 2023

Tens of thousands of people gathered in Saint Peter’s square this morning for the funeral of Pope emeritus Benedict the 16th. 

Dignitaries and religious leaders lined the square for the ceremony. The crowd applauded when pall bearers carried Benedict’s coffin out of Saint Peter’s Basilica and placed it on the altar. 

A metal cylinder containing the official history of Benedict’s life along with coins and medallions minted during his papacy were placed in his coffin before it was sealed. 

It was an unprecedented requiem mass in modern times, presided over by a living pope, for his predecessor. Benedict was the first pope to retire in six centuries. 

Benedict was 95 when he died Saturday. He was the leader of the church’s conservative wing and is considered one of the world’s greatest theologians. His legacy also includes the crisis of sexual abuse among the clergy. He laid the groundwork for punishing priests. But abuse survivors say he failed to sanction bishops who moved abusers around and he refused to order the reporting of sex crimes to police. 

"He was very clear in condemning these abuses and very clear in setting up structures within the congregation of the doctrine of faith to deal quickly with these cases and especially in some cases to defrock the priests so that they could no longer serve as priests in the church," said Father Mark Morozowich, dean of theology and religious studies at the Catholic University of America. 

The funeral ceremony had some modifications because Benedict was not the reigning pope when he died. Pope Francis offered a meditation on Christ before saying farewell. 

"Brothers and sisters, in celebrating the sacred mysteries we open our minds and hearts to joy filled hope. In that confidence we now offer our final farewell to emeritus Benedict, we commend him to God, our merciful and loving father," said Pope Francis.   

Pope Francis said a final prayer, and as the pallbearers carried the coffin back into the Basilica for burial, some in the crowd held banners or shouted, "santo subito" — "sainthood now." 

Pope Benedict's Body Lying In State At Vatican

Pope Benedict's Body Lying In State At Vatican

Thousands of mourners lined up on the first day of public viewing before Thursday morning's funeral, which will be led by Pope Francis.

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