Pope Emeritus Benedict’s passing overshadows New Year at Vatican

On Sunday, January 1, Pope Francis observed the traditional World Day of Peace of the Roman Catholic Church, but the beginning of the new year at the Vatican was overshadowed by the death of his predecessor, Benedict XVI.

Francis presided over a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica as the remains of Benedict, who died on December 31 at the age of 95, was being readied for three days of public viewing beginning on Monday, January 2, in the same church.

The Vatican unveiled the first photographs of the late Pope Benedict on Sunday, depicting him in crimson and gold liturgical attire and lying in state in the chapel of the monastery where he died.

In contrast to what occurred following the 2005 death of Pope John Paul, whose body was moved in a solemn outdoor procession broadcast live around the world, his body will be moved discreetly to the basilica.

In accordance with Benedict’s intentions, his funeral will be simple and solemn on Thursday, January 5. A sitting pope will preside over the funeral of his predecessor for the first time in many centuries. Benedict, who resigned in 2013, was the first pontiff to resign in 600 years.

The first of January is also the feast of the Mother of God, and in his sermon, Pope Francis urged the Virgin Mary to accompany “our dear” Pope Emeritus Benedict “in his journey to God.”

Benedict was also remembered in one of the Mass’s prayers.

In his sermon, Pope Francis exhorted his audience to engage actively for peace and not “spend time tied to a keyboard in front of a computer screen” but to “get our hands dirty and do some good.”

Francis made a second appeal to end the bloodshed in Ukraine during his Sunday blessing in St. Peter’s Square, calling it an “intolerable contradiction” with the day’s subject.

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