Benedict funeral to be similar to that of reigning popes

VATICAN CITY: Tens of thousands more people paid homage to former Pope Benedict on Tuesday (Jan 3) on the second day his body lay in state, and the Vatican announced that his funeral will be similar to that of a reigning pope, including a three coffin burial.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who like Benedict, has called for the protection of Europe’s Christian roots, was among the about 70,000 people paying their respects at St Peter’s Basilica, following 65,000 on Monday.

Also among them was Rome resident Loredana Corrao, who said she was a great admirer of Benedict, a towering figure as an academic and a hero to conservatives but also a controversial leader who did not tolerate theological dissent.

“It was a fitting tribute. It was very emotional and moving. I also came yesterday but I had things to say to him and I also came today,” she told Reuters.

“I am sure that an important part of the Church’s history has closed and now we have to move on without him.”

Pope Francis has been carrying on his normal workload since Benedict died on Saturday at age 95. He had a regular series of audiences and meetings on Monday and Tuesday and will hold his weekly general audience on Wednesday.

The death of Benedict, who in 2013 became the first pontiff in 600 years to step down instead of reigning for life, could make any decision to leave office easier on Pope Francis and the Church, which encountered difficulties with having “two popes”.

Pope Francis will preside at Benedict’s funeral in St Peter’s Square on Thursday before a crowd that Vatican police say will number in the tens of thousands.

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