Pope Francis marks New Year as Vatican prepares to mourn Benedict

Vatican City – Pope Francis prayed for his predecessor’s passage to heaven and once again expressed gratitude for a lifetime of service to the Church during the New Year’s performances a day after Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died in retirement in the Vatican.

St. Peter’s Basilica, where Francis led a New Year’s Mass in the morning, will house Benedict’s coffin from Monday. Thousands of believers are expected to appear in front of the coffin in three days.

Benedict, 95, died Saturday morning at the Vatican, where he had lived since retiring. He was the first pope in centuries to resign, citing his increasing frailty.

Francis looked tired and sat with his head bowed as Mass began on the first day of the year, an occasion the Catholic Church dedicates to the theme of peace.

He briefly interrupted his sermon, emphasizing hope and peace, to pray aloud for Benedict.

“Today we entrust our Blessed Mother our beloved Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. to accompany him on his journey from this world to God,” he said.

Pope Francis will lead the end-of-year Vespers and the Te Deum service in St. Peter's Basilica on December 31, 2022 in Vatican City.
Pope Francis will lead the end-of-year Vespers and the Te Deum service in St. Peter’s Basilica on December 31, 2022 in Vatican City.

Alessandra Benedetti/Corbis via Getty Images

Francis later made further comments about the retired pope as he brought New Year’s greetings to thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

Regarding Mary, Francis said that “in these hours we ask her intercession, especially for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who left this world yesterday morning”.

“Let us all join together of heart and soul to give thanks to God for the gift of this faithful minister of the Gospel and of the Church,” said Francis, speaking from a window of the Apostolic Palace to the pilgrims and tourists below.

The square will be the scene of Pope Benedict’s funeral conducted by Pope Francis on Thursday morning. That rite will be simple, the Vatican said, in line with the wishes of Benedict, who, as a German cardinal, had served for decades as the guardian of the Church’s orthodox doctrine before being elected pope in 2005.

In recent years, Francis has welcomed Benedict’s stunning decision to become the first pope to step down in 600 years, and made it clear that he would consider such a move as an option for himself.

Disabled by knee pain, Francis, 86, arrived at the basilica in a wheelchair on Sunday before taking his place in a chair for mass to be celebrated by the Vatican Secretary of State.

Pope Francis, who has repeatedly denounced the war in Ukraine and its devastation, recalled the victims of the war who spent the end-of-year holiday in darkness, cold and fear.

“At the beginning of this year we need hope, just as the earth needs rain,” Francis said in his homily.

Addressing the faithful in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis referred to the “intolerable” war in Ukraine that began in February last year with the attacks and invasion of Russia and other parts of the world.

Still, Francis said, “Let us not give up hope” that peace will prevail. “All over the world, in all peoples, a cry goes up: ‘No to war, no to armament’, but (may) the resources be used for development, health, nutrition, education, work.”

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/pope-francis-new-year-vatican-mourns-benedict/ Pope Francis marks New Year as Vatican prepares to mourn Benedict

Rick Schindler

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