Thousands of People Head to Pope Benedict’s Funeral

Thousands of Mourners Head to Pope Benedict's Funeral

( – Pope Benedict XVI, formerly known as Joseph Ratzinger, died on December 31, 2022, at the age of 95. His services took place on January 4, led by Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square. Crowds were large, with 50,000 people attending the public portion of the ceremony.

The services began as his casket entered the square. Pope Francis praised his predecessor for being a holy man of great conviction during a mass in front of the large crowd of mourners, which included 125 cardinals, 200 bishops, and around 3,700 priests, according to Reuters. Notably, world leaders didn’t attend in their official capacities, but Benedict had requested a quiet affair. Some attendees reportedly chanted their desire to see Benedict made a saint before attendants took the casket to the private burial in the grottoes under the Vatican.

The event was historical because it had been two centuries since a current pope led the funeral services for a previous pontiff. Yet, Benedict didn’t mind making history. His resignation was the first in six centuries.

Benedict served as pope from April 2005 to February 2013. He resigned at 85 years old, stating he felt his age hindered his ability to lead the Church properly. Benedict maintained he left of his own free will.

Despite this, rumors persisted that powers within the Church forced him to step down because they wanted someone more progressive. The installation of Pope Francis, considered to be one of the most liberal popes in history due to his remarks on homosexuality and other social matters, often fueled the accusations. Benedict also went through multiple sex scandal revelations that plagued the Church.

During his service, he enjoyed popularity among Catholics. The Pew Research Center revealed that two polls in 2013, immediately before his resignation, showed high favorability ratings. Still, he never reached the high numbers of Pope John Paul II.

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