Francis to Honor Benedict With Papal Burial

News: World News
by Jules Gomes  •  •  December 29, 2022   

Pope Emeritus' condition stabilizes as Holy See discusses funeral protocol

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VATICAN CITY ( - Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's funeral service will be marked by full papal honors granted at the behest of Pope Francis, senior officials in the Vatican bureaucracy have suggested.

Pope Francis meeting Benedict XVI in August

"It is clear that the Holy Father will ask that Benedict XVI's funeral be like that of a pontiff still reigning from the throne of Peter," Il Sismografo reported Thursday, as the Secretariat of State held meetings to discuss funeral arrangements. 

"Obviously, the Holy Father has no other intention than — as Vicar of Christ, universal Shepherd of the Church, Bishop of Rome — to render the posthumous homage reserved for her eldest children," the Vatican news aggregator explained. 

Speculations over the pope emeritus' funeral reached a fever pitch in Rome after the Holy See Press Office confirmed that "in the last few hours there has been an aggravation [in Benedict XVI's condition] due to advancing age."

"The pope emeritus managed to rest well last night, he is absolutely lucid and alert and today, although his condition remains serious, the situation is currently stable. Pope Francis renews his invitation to pray for him and to accompany him in these difficult hours," the Holy See Press Office informed journalists in its latest update. 

"The situation at the moment remains under control, constantly monitored by doctors," Matteo Bruni, director of the press office, added. An insider said that Benedict XVI is suffering from aggravated kidney failure and had a recent modification to his pacemaker.

By Thursday morning, the pope emeritus' condition was reported to have stabilized but was "gradually wearing out and fading away due to his advanced age," even though he was not suffering from "any particular grave illness." Benedict has not been able to speak but has remained "astonishingly lucid." 

I would like to ask you all for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict, who in silence is supporting the Church.

The 95-year-old pope emeritus had a modification to his "pacemaker about a month and a half ago to regularize his heartbeats," which was unrelated to his kidney failure, the source added.

On Wednesday, Pope Francis told his morning audience that his predecessor was "very ill" and asked the faithful to "remember him, asking the Lord to console him and to sustain him in this witness of love for the Church, until the end."

"I would like to ask you all for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict, who in silence is supporting the Church," Vatican News tweeted on Francis' behalf. 

After the audience, Francis visited Benedict at his Mater Ecclesiae Monastery residence, the Vatican told reporters. 

According to medical sources, Benedict's condition had already worsened in the days leading up to Christmas, when he began to complain of "respiratory problems." 

Other cardinals also pleaded with the faithful to pray for Benedict. "In these difficult and serious times, let us unite in fervent prayer for our dear pope emeritus," conservative Cdl. Robert Sarah, a close ally of Benedict, tweeted

In these difficult and serious times, let us unite in fervent prayer for our dear pope emeritus.

"Pope Francis has called us today to pray for Pope Emeritus Benedict. Let us all join in this prayer! Pope Emeritus Benedict has been very attached to our country and to our Church since his childhood," the liberal cardinal-archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schöenborn, urged. 

Meanwhile, experts raised questions about whether Benedict had left detailed instructions on his funeral and asked if they would be honored liturgically. 

Church historian Alberto Melloni told the Associated Press that the funeral for a pope emeritus would follow the protocol for the funeral for the bishop emeritus of Rome and would be similar to funerals for retired bishops and would follow the Roman Rituale. 

Pope Benedict XVI on the loggia after his election

The "novemdiales," which consists of a nine-day period of mourning following the death of the Supreme Pontiff, would presumably be omitted, Melloni observed, since the tradition is reserved to mark the death and burial of a reigning pontiff. 

The rite for the funeral of a reigning pope is laid out in the Ordo Exsequiarum Romani Pontificis — a 437-page manual written in Italian and Latin — and was modified by Pope John Paul II in his apostolic constitution Universi Dominici Gregis (1996). 

The manual dictates three stations: the first station in the house of the departed pope, the second station where the body of the pope is transferred to St. Peter's Basilica and the third station at the tomb. 

The second station forms the centerpiece of the ritual with recitations from the psalms and New Testament canticles, followed by a grand funeral Mass in St. Peter's Square.    

Media crews have been setting up cameras in St. Peter's Square anticipating the announcement of Benedict's death. About two billion people watched Pope John Paul II's funeral on television, and at least four million are said to have attended his funeral in Rome. 

Commentators called it the biggest media event in history and the biggest funeral in the history of man, with 200 leaders from over 100 countries in attendance.  

Church Militant asked the Holy See Press Office if Benedict would be buried with full papal honors but received no response as of press time. 

A special Mass will be celebrated in the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran on Friday evening to pray for the pope emeritus' health. 

Bishop Guerino Di Tora, vicar of the cardinal archpriest of the archbasilica, will preside at the eucharistic service and the celebration will be telecast live on Vatican Media from 17.30 pm. 

This is a developing story. 

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