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Pope Francis leads ex-pontiff Benedict’s funeral

Tens of 1000’s of mourners gathered Thursday for the funeral of former pope Benedict XVI on the Vatican, led by his successor Pope Francis in an occasion unprecedented in trendy occasions.

The physique of the German theologian, who in 2013 grew to become the primary pontiff in six centuries to resign, was specified by a easy cypress coffin in entrance of St Peter’s Basilica, the place his stays will later be laid within the crypt.

For the primary time in trendy historical past, the proceedings had been led by a sitting pope, Francis, who will ship the homily.

On both facet of the coffin had been seated red-clad cardinals and dignitaries from world wide, amongst them heads of state together with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

Tens of 1000’s of members of public additionally attended, lots of them queuing earlier than daybreak to pay their respects to Benedict, who died final Saturday aged 95.

“Benedict is a bit like my father, so I needed to pay homage to him,” mentioned Cristina Grisanti, a 59-year-old from Milan, who hailed the previous pope’s “purity, his candour, his mildness”.

Many Germans had been additionally within the crowd, paying tribute to Germany’s first pope in 1,000 years, whose funeral is being marked again house by the ringing of church bells throughout the nation.

“We owe him a lot. We need to present that we stand behind him,” mentioned Benedikt Rothweiler, 34, who got here from Aachen along with his household.

“We truly know too little about Benedict. He all the time accepted every part the way in which God needs it. This can be a good instance for us people.”

An estimated 195,000 folks have already paid their respects throughout three days of mendacity in state on the basilica, the Vatican mentioned, whereas as much as 100,000 had been anticipated for Thursday’s funeral.

Benedict might be interred in a tomb within the crypt beneath the basilica, the place John Paul II’s physique lay earlier than it was moved for his beatification in 2011. He was made a saint in 2014.

Two popes

Benedict was a superb theologian however a divisive determine who alienated many Catholics along with his staunch defence of conservative doctrine on points corresponding to abortion.

His eight years as head of the worldwide Catholic Church was additionally marked by crises, from in-fighting throughout the Vatican to the worldwide scandal of clerical intercourse abuse and its cover-up.

When he stop, Benedict mentioned he longer had the “willpower and physique” essential for the duty, retiring to a quiet life in a monastery within the Vatican gardens.

His loss of life introduced an finish to an unprecedented state of affairs of getting two “males in white” — he and Francis — residing in tiny metropolis state.

He and Francis, an Argentine Jesuit, had been mentioned to hit it off, however Benedict’s later interventions meant he stayed a standard-bearer for conservative Catholics who didn’t like his successor’s extra liberal stance.

The final time a pope presided over the funeral of his predecessor was in 1802, when Pius VII led the ceremony for Pius VI — however the circumstances had been very totally different.

Pius VI died in 1799 in exile, a prisoner of France, and was buried in Valence. His successor had his stays exhumed and introduced again to Italy, earlier than he was handled to a papal funeral at St Peter’s.

 Safety operation

Past St Peter’s, most of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics had been anticipated to comply with the funeral proceedings on tv and the radio.

Within the majority Catholic Philippines, church buildings held requiem plenty for the previous pontiff, together with at Malolos Cathedral close to the capital Manila.

“That is an unexplainable feeling to witness this,” mentioned Cherry Castro, 67, who was amongst round 500 gathered for the particular ceremony.

Portugal has declared a nationwide day of mourning on Thursday, whereas in Italy, flags might be flown at half-mast on public buildings.

Round 1,000 police supplied safety on the funeral, bolstered by quite a few civilians from Italy’s civil safety service, whereas greater than 1,000 journalists are accredited.

The one official delegations had been from Germany and Italy.

However different dignitaries, together with Belgian and Spanish royals, the presidents of Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Hungary, Slovenia and Togo, and the premiers of the Czech Republic, Gabon and Slovakia amongst others attended in a private capability.

The multi-lingual service with a Latin mass adopted conventional papal funerals, with just a few adjustments to prayers and readings to mirror Benedict’s standing as emeritus pope.

Earlier than being laid within the crypt, his cypress coffin might be positioned first inside a zinc coffin, then a wood case.

As is conventional, cash and medals minted throughout his papacy and a written textual content describing his preach, sealed in a metallic cylinder, might be positioned alongside his physique.

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