Just before 7 a.m. Jan. 5, the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica was so shrouded with fog that it was scarcely visible. Yet the sounds of German folk music permeated the dense air as some 500 traditionally dressed Bavarians descended upon the Vatican to attend the funeral of their beloved countryman, Pope Benedict XVI.
In what looks like a continuation of pontifical legacy, Pope Benedict XVI was buried in the crypt where his Polish predecessor, St. John Paul II, was first buried. St. John XXIII also was buried there prior to his beatification.
For Peter Seewald, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was someone “who is what he says and what he preaches.” This not only mesmerized Seewald but made him fully come back to the Catholic Church. International bestsellers co-written with Pope Benedict XVI and a thick biography followed.
The death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has brought “a sense of sadness” to the faithful but “also a sense of gratitude … as we thank almighty God for the good shepherd he was,” Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York said in his homily at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Jan. 1, the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God.
Representatives from the world’s Christian churches will travel to the Vatican to attend the funeral Mass of Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Square Jan. 5.
By their lives, Mary and the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI helped people to seek and to see the face of God, Washington Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory said Dec. 31.
The Jan. 5 funeral Mass for Pope Benedict XVI will be a papal funeral with a few changes to fit with the fact that he was not the reigning pope and has not left behind a “sede vacante.”
With the passing of Pope Benedict XVI, the question has been raised anew as to whether Pope Francis will now issue new protocols for a pope who steps down from office, as many have speculated.
An inexorable media dynamic occurs whenever a major public figure dies: During the gap between the death and the funeral, journalists scramble to fill column inches and airwaves with something — anything, really — to sustain interest in the story until there’s actual news to report.
A quiet hush covered the vast expanse of St. Peter’s Square even though it was filled with thousands of people slowly winding their way around the colonnade into St. Peter’s Basilica to pay their last respects to the late Pope Benedict XVI.