VATICAN CITY: On Sunday, the day after his predecessor passed away at the age of 95, Pope Francis addressed thousands of Catholics at the Vatican for New Year’s Day services and paid tribute to the “beloved” Benedict XVI.
During a mass for peace at St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis said, “Today we entrust the beloved pope emeritus Benedict XVI to the most holy mother (the Virgin Mary), to accompany him in his passage from this world to God.”
The pope then observed a moment of silence in memory of the late pontiff as he delivered his Sunday Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square in front of thousands of people.
He concluded by saying, “Let us all join together, with one heart and one soul, in thanking God for the gift of this faithful servant of the Gospel and the Church.”
Benedict, a conservative intellectual who became the first pontiff in six centuries to step down in 2013, passed away on Saturday at his residence in a monastery on the Vatican grounds.
His body will be continued on Monday morning to St Peter’s Basilica, where for three days the public will actually want to offer their appreciation before a memorial service on Thursday regulated by Francis. The Vatican has stated that the ceremony will be “solemn but simple.” He will then be buried in the papal tombs beneath St. Peter’s Basilica.
Even though Benedict was more divisive, the most recent papal funeral, held in 2005 for John Paul II, drew a million faithful and heads of state from all over the world.
As pope, he struggled to impose his authority on the church as it battled a string of crises, including clerical sex abuse. A brilliant theologian, he alienated many Catholics with his steadfast defense of traditional values.
Despite the fact that the majority of those gathered at the Vatican on Sunday were on long-awaited vacations, many welcomed the opportunity to honor Benedict.
Paola Filippa, an Italian teacher who was in Rome for Christmas and was 58 years old, called him “a simple, humble, and great man.” Excellent in life, faith, simplicity, and love.
– Two white men – On Saturday, tributes came in from all over the world, including from Catholic US President Joe Biden, who praised Benedict for his “devotion to the Church,” and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who praised him as a “defender of traditional Christian values.”
His demise finished off an exceptional circumstance in which two “men dressed in white” — Benedict and Francis — had existed together inside the walls of the little city-state.
For a long time, Benedict’s health had been deteriorating, and he had largely avoided the public eye.
Francis, 86, has hinted that if he were unable to fulfill his responsibilities, he might follow Benedict’s lead and resign.
He confessed in July that he needed to slow down or consider stepping aside due to knee issues that have forced him to use a wheelchair.
In addition, the Argentinean revealed earlier in December that he had executed a resignation letter when he took office in case poor health prevented him from performing his duties.
God’s Rottweiler: Benedict was born on April 16, 1927, in Marktl am Inn, Bavaria. When he became the first modern-era German pope, he was 78 years old, describing the process as “like the guillotine.”
Benedict was a cat lover who enjoyed studying and playing the piano, in contrast to his successor, a Jesuit who took pleasure in being among his flock.
In a previous position as chief doctrinal enforcer, he was dubbed “God’s Rottweiler” for fiercely defending traditional Catholic teaching on abortion, euthanasia, and gay marriage.
However, as pope, he struggled to contain numerous church scandals.
Although critics claimed that Benedict did not go far enough to address the issue and decades of cover-ups, he was the first pope to meet with victims of clerical child sex abuse.
Other controversies included remarks that enraged Muslims, a money-laundering scandal at the Vatican bank, and his own humiliation when his butler leaked secret documents to the media in 2012.
Benedict remained a symbol of the church’s conservative wing after he resigned.
According to Marco Politi, an Italian Vatican observer, those who fought Francis’ more liberal outlook “lose a living symbol” with his death.