VATICAN CITY, Jan 1 (Reuters) – Pope Francis marked the Catholic Church’s World Day of Peace on Sunday but the start of the new year at the Vatican was overshadowed by the death of his predecessor, Benedict.
Francis conducted a Mass at the church of St. Peter’s Basilica as the body of Benedict, who died on Saturday at the age of 95, is set for a three-day public viewing in the church beginning Monday.
On Sunday, the Vatican released the first images of Benedict’s death, showing him dressed in red and gold robes and lying in the chapel of the church where he died. .
His body will be moved to the church, unlike after the death of Pope John Paul in 2005, his body was moved in an outdoor procession that was mirrored around the world.
In accordance with Benedict’s wishes, his burial was simple and holy on Thursday. It was the first time in centuries that a sitting pope had attended the funeral of his grandfather. Benedict, who stepped down in 2013, became the first pontiff in 600 years to resign.
January 1 is also the feast of the Mother of God, and in his message, Francis asked the Madonna to accompany “our dear friend” Pope Emeritus Benedict “on his visit this world to God”.
Benedict was also remembered in one of the prayers at the Church.
In his sermon, Francis urged his audience to work for peace, not to “waste time at the keyboard in front of the computer screen” but to “get our hands dirty and do good “.
After his blessing on Sunday in the square of St. Peter’s Square, Francis also asked for an end to the war in Ukraine, saying that “it is completely different” to the agenda of the day.
IT IS COMPLIMENTARY, BUT ALSO REFUSED TO ADVERTISE
On Saturday night the Vatican released Benedict’s two-page “spiritual legacy” written in 2006, a year after he was elected pope. There is no explanation why Benedict did not renew himself as he grew older and weaker.
In it, he asks in a general, spiritual sense, that God accept him for inner life “despite all my sins and weaknesses”.
Francis on Saturday described Benedict as a noble, generous man, a gift to the Church and the world.
Although the ex-pope continues to be praised by world leaders and members of the faithful, some strongly oppose his pontificate.
Others remembered the heavy advice he gave to the theologians who were going forward, especially in Latin America, when he became the head of the class in the Vatican under Pope John Paul II. Those actions prompted conservative Catholics to call Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger “God’s Rottweiler”.
And while some say Benedict played a key role in legitimizing the Vatican’s response to clerical violence, victims’ groups accuse him of protecting the institution at all costs.
“In our opinion, the death of Pope Benedict XVI is a reminder that, like John Paul II, Benedict is more concerned about the poor state of the Church and the financial flow to the sky to catch the program of sincere gratitude followed by sincere reparations to victims of abuse,” said the anti-abuse group SNAP.
Like many Vatican officials who worked with Benedict, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet said he believed the German pontiff left “a legacy” as a man of God and a man of culture.
“I believe this is another step for the future, to think deeply about the Christian faith in the face of the challenges of our time,” Ouellet told Reuters.
Story by Philip Pullella Editing by Crispian Balmer and Frances Kerry
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