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Never before: Retired pope’s funeral at Vatican

The Vatican details the ceremonies and procedures to be followed in the event of a pope’s death, but does not publish such rules for emeritus popes.

As a result, Wednesday’s official announcement that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s health has deteriorated has raised questions about when and what will happen if he dies.

Here is the answer: No specific answer. At least, nothing the Vatican announced beforehand.

The only certainty is that the most important ceremony after the Pope’s death, the Conclave for electing a new Pope, does not apply.

Pope Francis has sounded the alarm about the health of 95-year-old Benedict, calling for special prayers for his predecessor at his general audience every Wednesday, saying the retired pope is “very ill”.

Most church watchers believe that, if necessary, Benedict’s funeral will be faithful to that of the retired bishop of Rome. Funerals are held in St. Peter’s Basilica or Square, and in this case are presided over by Francis rather than the diocesan. Cardinal College, and is buried in a cave under the cathedral.

“The funeral of a pope emeritus is that of an emeritus bishop of Rome,” said church historian Alberto Meloni, adding that the situation is unprecedented as dioceses around the world decide how to properly honor retired bishops. He added that it was nothing.

The ritual itself is contained in the book “Roman Rituale” which explains how liturgical rites are celebrated, with specific prayers and recitations.

However, some adjustments are required. Since Benedict was a head of state, the funeral will probably be more festive with the attendance of official delegations from around the world.

To give them time to arrive and to honor Benedict’s previous pope status, he was likely to lie in the cathedral for several days before his funeral, as has been the case with past popes. .

Few can forget the long line of pilgrims who lined up day and night to pay their respects to St. John Paul II, who died in 2005.

One thing that distinguishes Benedict’s funeral from that of the reigning pope is the nine-day funeral before the burial, called a “novendiale”, which probably won’t take place, Meloni said. But one of his traditions that is preserved is the coffining of the Gospels.

When Benedict announced his retirement in 2013, he carved out a decade of unknown Papal States. From his title “Honorary Pope” to his decision to retain the papal white cassock, Benedict created a new playbook that largely covers both incumbent and retired popes.

Christopher Beritt, a professor of history at Keene College in New Jersey, said the novelty of Benedict’s astonishing decision will likely carry over into the afterlife and beyond.

“Headlines will say ‘One pope buries another’. Not true,” Berritt said in an email. “Let me be clear: Benedict is a former pope.”

“But given that there has been no papal resignation for 600 years, this is an extraordinary sight. It reflects the continuity of the papal tradition in the St. It tells the story of a new world that is even more.

  • Nicole Winfield – First published RNSrepublished with permission.

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https://cathnews.co.nz/2023/01/01/retired-popes-funeral-at-vatican-ha-never-happened-before/ Never before: Retired pope’s funeral at Vatican

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