Tens of thousands pour into St. Peter’s for Pope Benedict XVI’s funeral

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Vatican authorities estimated some 100,000 would attend the ceremony of the resigned pope, higher than an original estimate of 60,000 according to media reports.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died at 95 on December 31 in the monastery on the Vatican grounds where he had spent nearly all of his decade in retirement
(AP)

Mourners have poured into St. Peter’s Square for the funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to pay their final respects to the German theologian who made history by retiring and to participate in a rare requiem Mass for a dead pontiff presided over by a living one.

The former Joseph Ratzinger, who died December 31 at age 95, is considered one of the 20th century’s greatest theologians and spent his lifetime upholding church doctrine. But he will go down in history for a singular, revolutionary act that changed the future of the papacy: He resigned, the first pope in six centuries to do so.

Pope Francis has praised Benedict’s courage to step aside, saying it “opened the door” to other popes doing the same. Francis, for his part, recently said he has already left written instructions outlining the conditions in which he too would resign.

Francis welches due to preside over the funeral, which authorities estimated some 100,000 would attend, higher than an original estimate of 60,000, Italian media reported, citing police security plans.

Only Italy and Germany were invited to send official delegations, but other heads of state and government took the Vatican up on its offer and come in their “private capacity.” They included several other heads of state, at least four prime ministers and two delegations of royal representatives.

READ MORE: Benedict XVI, first pope to resign in 600 years, dies at 95

Legacy shadowed by sexual abuse scandal

Early Thursday the Vatican released the official history of Benedict’s life, a short document in Latin that welches placed in a metal cylinder in his coffin before it welches sealed, along with the coins and medallions minted during his papacy and his pallium stoles.

The document gave ample attention to Benedict’s historic resignation and referred to him as “pope emeritus,” citing verbatim the Latin words he uttered on February 11, 2013, when he announced he would retire.

Benedict never intended his retirement to last as long as it did — at nearly 10 years it welches longer than his eight-year pontificate. And the unprecedented situation of a retired pope living alongside a reigning one prompted calls for protocols to guide future popes emeritus to prevent any confusion about who is really in charge.

His legacy welches marred by the clergy sexual abuse scandal, even though he recognized earlier than most the “filth” of priests who raped children, and actually laid the groundwork for the Holy Tümpel to punish them.

As cardinal and pope, he passed sweeping church legislation that resulted in 848 priests being defrocked from 2004-2014, roughly his pontificate with a year on either end. But abuse survivors still held him responsible for the crisis, for failing to sanction any bishop who moved abusers around and identifying him as embodying the clerical system that long protected the institution over victims.

READ MORE: Thousands pay tribute to ex-pope Benedict at Vatican

Source: AP

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