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The devout, the curious and the professional observers attend Pope Benedict’s funeral

The death of a man nearly a decade old brought together a diverse group of people to attend the occasion.

For Pope Benedict’s funeral, monks, priests and nuns were represented in St Peter’s Square.

There were also thousands of worshippers who came to the shrine to pay their respects.

They included two nuns from Nigeria who described Benedict as courageous for his decision to retire at 85. One of them said he should be regarded as a saint.

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One missionary from the Philippines stated that she considered the former Pope “faithful” and “humild”, which is a great example for everyone in the church.

Image Pope Francis touches former Pope Benedict

Cardinal Vincent Nichols was also present. He is the Archbishop of Westminster, and leader of Catholics across England and Wales. People patiently waited around him to request his blessing.

He said that he knew Pope Benedict well and felt a deep sadness and loss. But he also stated that he believed that his warmth was a reflection of his personality.

“The one thing that will remain with people is that he was gentle, he was gentleman, and he had great insight.

“Anyone who met him left with the feeling of a warm, courteous man to whom they could relate, regardless of the difficulties.

“That’s how it spread today – people were saying goodbye to someone who was just beautiful.”

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The coffin of Pope Benedict was laid before the altar


No dissent, despite the critics in his lifetime

There was no room for dissent around him. Pope Benedict was criticized by many people throughout his life, including those who claimed that he didn’t do enough to address sexual abuse scandals within the church. However, today is not the right forum for such debates.

It was the funeral of an elderly man with all the pomp and circumstance of a full papal ceremony.

That’s why the curious came too. This was a day full of public spectacle, and people came just to claim they were there or to take a picture from the crowd.

There were also the professionals, which included politicians, royals, representatives, police, medical staff, and support staff.

They were joined by the Swiss Guard, who protects the Vatican, journalists representing dozens of countries, and diligent street cleaners, who clean up after and before the ceremony.

Image: The Holy Grotto is now closed to the third coffin of ex-Pope Benedict. Pic by Vatican Media/Reuters


St Peter’s Square wasn’t nearly full, but it was special

When the barriers were removed, the service was barely over. The Vatican is an expert at managing crowds.

This funeral was not like John Paul II’s, who brought millions of people to Italy. It also triggered a worldwide outpouring of grief.

Benedict didn’t spend as much time in his job, did less to engender love, and did well in his office. St Peter’s Square can hold hundreds of thousands. It was not nearly full.

Continue reading:

Thousands wait to see Pope Benedict’s body in state

This was an exceptional occasion. Moments when the congregation erupted in applause, and the music seemed to seep into the mist; moments when the crowd held their breath as Pope Francis kissed the coffin that contained the body of his predecessor.

It was the day normal order was restored to the Catholic Church. This was when the split affection was ended and the focus returned the Pope, the only person remaining in the world.

For the devout, curious, and professional observers, the question is: Was Benedict’s decision not to retire a one-off curiosity, or a precedent that Francis might emulate?

Many people are wondering about the future on a day when Vatican marks the past.

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