Pope Benedict XVI Passes Away at 95, Pope Francis to Lead Historic Funeral Service

1: pope benedict xvi passed away on new year’s eve at the age of 95. pope francis will preside over the funeral service, the first time a sitting pope has led a predecessor’s funeral in over 220 years. official delegations from italy and germany, his native country, will attend the funeral arrangements, as well as king philippe of belgium, queen letizia of spain, the leaders of poland and hungary in unofficial capacities. benedict was the former head of state.

2: the funeral will be held in st peter’s square in front of st peter’s basilica at 9:30 local time (8:30 gmt). portugal declared a day of national mourning while in italy flags will be flown at half-mast on public buildings. church bells will ring at 11:00 in germany (10:00 gmt) to commemorate his memory. benedict became the first pope in more than 600 years to step down from the papacy.

3: benedict’s body will be placed in the tombs beneath the basilica with items symbolizing his time as pope. archbishop paul gallagher, the most senior british figure in the vatican, has said that benedict has continued to be a “powerful presence” in the vatican. some have suggested that benedict has become a lightning rod for internal criticism of pope francis’ decisions. archbishop gallagher has acknowledged that the recent passing of benedict may make it easier for pope francis to consider his own retirement. pope francis has established that he will continue in his ministry as long as he believes he is capable, but that a decision about stepping down was not imminent. benedict’s legacy is controversial, as some continue to criticize his handling of the clerical abuse scandal.


By Evey Lovelace

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