Pope Francis to lead unique funeral for ex-Pope Benedict | Daily News

Pope Francis to lead unique funeral for ex-Pope Benedict

VATICAN CITY: For the first time in modern history, a sitting pope will preside over his predecessor’s funeral next week, with Pope Francis leading a “simple” ceremony for Benedict XVI, who died Saturday.

Benedict, the first pontiff to resign since the Middle Ages, had renounced the papal throne -- but lived within the Vatican and still wore white.

The 95-year-old would have a “solemn but simple” funeral on Thursday, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni told journalists at a briefing after his death.

The sudden deterioration of the ex-pope’s health earlier this week sparked questions over what would happen next. The death of a Roman Catholic pope usually sets in motion time-honoured traditions, but would someone who had given up the papacy get papal treatment? Unlike when previous popes have died, there is no need to call a conclave to elect a new pontiff, as Francis -- chosen to succeed Benedict in 2013 -- remains very much in the post. Under rules set out in 1996, a Pope must be buried between four and six days after his death.

How and when he is buried is usually decided by cardinals who gather from around the world, and who also organise the Vatican’s nine days of mourning, known as novemdiales.

They decide because the death of a Pope traditionally creates a power vacuum at the top of the church.

However, no such vacuum exists in this case, as Francis is in charge.

The Vatican said it would be respecting Benedict’s wishes. The ex-Pope’s funeral will take place in St Peter’s Square, the vast square in front of the basilica, on Thursday. “As the Pope Emeritus wished, the funeral will be simple,” Bruni told journalists. Francis had alerted the world to Benedict’s frailness on Wednesday, when he called on the world’s Catholics to pray for him.

He later visited him at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery inside the Vatican gardens which became Benedict’s home when he retired.


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