Thousands gather to mourn Pope Benedict XVI – Capital Radio Malawi
15 April, 2024

Thousands gather to mourn Pope Benedict XVI

It’s a cold, misty morning in Rome as thousands of priests, nuns and other delegates sit in St Peter’s Square for the three-hour funeral ceremony.

For the past few days many have spoken of their admiration of the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, as a thinker and a theologian as around 200,000 queued to see his body lying in state.

But early this morning, views from a roof high above St Peter’s Square, it’s clear this funeral is not on the same scale as the last papal funeral, of John Paul II, in 2005.

Then more than three million people came to Rome for the funeral, with 500,000 attending the ceremony and hundreds of thousands more watching on screens around the city.

The context now is different. Benedict was not a sitting Pope when he died, unlike his close friend John Paul II.

But Benedict was also not viewed with the same affection as his predecessor. He was a scholar and much admired for his writings. But Benedict lacked charisma and did not have the same rock star appeal of John Paul II and that is reflected in the smaller crowds in attendance here.

Pope Francis has prayed for his predecessor as the Mass draws to a close with the burning of incense and the blessing of water.

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