VATICAN CITY — One of the most atypical chapters in modern Catholic history is that on March 13, 2013, Pope Francis, who had just appeared in the loggia of St. It started when I said a prayer to Benedict XVI.
But the subtle dance between the two popes – one incumbent and one former – isn’t over yet. at least not completely. That’s because Francis, warm on the outside, becomes the person who, in the final act of an often awkward relationship, frames a period of mourning and mourning.
On Thursday, he will preside over Benedict’s funeral.
What will Pope Benedict’s funeral look like? Pope Francis will officiate.
This precedent-setting week will be watched to see how thoroughly Benedict is given the scriptures that would normally be given to a sitting pope. In this case, the Vatican said only two official delegations, Italy and Benedict’s native Germany, would attend. I was. Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said the funeral would be “simple”.
Also important is how Francis, the first pope and the only person in the Vatican to wear white, speaks of his predecessor. So far, during Saturday night and Sunday prayers, he has only spoken in passing, calling Benedict’s death “noble” and “kind.” Otherwise, Francis is proceeding with the Vatican’s New Year festivities as normal. On Saturday, in his wheelchair, he waved to enthusiastic supporters as he was pushed around St. Peter’s Square.
Francis biographer Marco Politi predicted that the Pope would juggle “diplomacy” this week, looking for ways to show what he and Benedict have in common.
“This is how he neutralizes the Pope’s enemies,” Politi said.
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Within the church, Politi said, “there is a sense of relief, because the quiet contrast between the two figures and the two visions of the church is over.”
Benedict broke with the centuries-old tradition of serving the Pope to his death. The need to coexist with his predecessor was a defining aspect of the Pope’s tenure, coinciding with a period of increasing polarization within the faith.
To traditionalists, Benedict became a symbol of opposition.Conservative figures in the church sought audience with him. Far-right politicians would cite him, or John Paul II, instead of Francis.
The intrigue about their relationship is so intense that it inspired the film The Two Popes, which imagined the two verbally sparring and eventually enjoying each other in the period before Benedict’s abdication. I got
In real life, Benedict paid tribute to Francis, saying there was only one authority figure at the top. After the inauguration of a new cardinal, Francis regularly led them to greet Benedict, who lived in a convent behind St. Peter’s Basilica.
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However, having a retired Pope, especially one who lived close to Francis and chose to continue wearing white, proved dangerous at times. He did not fully keep his vow, and caused confusion when he intervened in church affairs.
In 2019, he wrote a lengthy letter about sexual abuse, linking some of the church’s problems to the sexual revolution of the 1960s, and coming up with a diagnosis that contradicted Francis’ own theory on the root cause.
Former Pope Benedict speaks out against Pope Francis over unusual intervention in sexual abuse
A year later, Benedict offered to defend the priestly celibacy, just as Francis was considering a move to allow the ordination of married men in the Amazon, to offset the dire shortage of priests. Benedict later said there had been a “misunderstanding” with the co-author of the book in which his remarks were published. Did.
In many cases, the positions of Benedict and Francis were not far apart. For example, both have supported church teachings on sexuality. But their philosophical differences were so pronounced that they seemed to represent polar opposites. Benedict as Pope focused on upholding the eternal teachings of the Faith, even if that meant a small church of devout believers. He has visited the country, emphasized dialogue with Islam, and used issues such as climate change and immigration.
Pope Benedict leads a reclusive life and stands against Pope Francis
Popes are always compared to their predecessors, but it was totally novel to have two living men with experience as the religion’s highest moral and spiritual authority.
Even in St. Peter’s Square on Saturday, in the hours after Benedict’s death, people spoke of him as opposed to Francis.
Andrea Versace, 23, who visited Rome from northern Veneto, described Benedict as “cold and isolated” and Francis as “more humble”.
Benedict’s death has repercussions for Francis. Some church watchers hope he will create formal rules to guide the retirement of future popes. Potentially, he would have to live outside the Vatican and return to his real name.
Francis has said in past interviews that he sees Benedict’s resignation as a precedent. However, he maintains a busy schedule.
Is Pope Francis nearing the end of his papacy?
Francis states that if he resigns, he will be known as Bishop Emeritus of Rome. He said he would “definitely not” stay in the Vatican.
In an interview with two Mexican journalists last year, Francis said that Benedict was “a holy and thoughtful person who knew how to do it well, and that was his first experience with incumbents and former popes.” said it “worked very well”. “
“But for the future it is appropriate to explain things better,” Francis said.