Analysis: A closer look at the ceremonial details of Benedict XVI’s funeral
The absence of official delegations at Benedict’s funeral was another feature that carried some weight. When the Pope rules, there are only official delegations. In this case, preference was given to clarifying that the pope is emeritus, stressing that any participation by heads of state, monarchs or government officials would be in a personal capacity.
All of this happens because there is a “see plena” with all the powers that are those of the Pope. Therefore, the heads of the departments have their mandate with the death of Benedict XVI. not ended because the pontificate has not yet ended. And the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church has not taken power because the pontificate is not over yet.
Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell, Camerlengo, was not present when the coffin was closed on January 4th.
Instead there was:
Cardinal Giovan Battista Re, Dean of the College of Cardinals;
Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica;
Cardinal Angelo de Donatis, Pope’s Vicar for the Diocese of Rome;
Cardinal Fernando Vergez, Governor of Vatican City State;
Archbishop Edgar Pena Parra, Deputy Secretary of State, and
the canons of St. Peter.
When the body of Benedict XVI. was transferred to St. Peter’s Basilica, the prayer was led by Cardinal Gambetti and not by the Camerlengo, since the Holy See was not vacant.
Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, presided over a brief ritual upon the arrival of Benedict XVI’s body. in St. Peter’s Basilica on January 2, 2023, sprinkled the body with holy water and said prayers for his calm soul. . Vatican media
It is these details that help to understand that it was the Pope Emeritus and not the incumbent Pope who died. Not even the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica rang to announce Benedict’s death.
There was no day of mourning, and even on the day of the funeral no mourning was declared for Vatican City State, although many Vatican staff attended the liturgy.
In other words, ceremonial signals were sent to make it clear that Benedict XVI. was not the incumbent pope.
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At the same time, there was no doubt that Benedict XVI. was pope and that he should have a papal burial.
Likewise, one must consider that it is as if the death of the pope happened twice: first in resignation, at which the “sede vacante” began and a conclave was held to choose the successor, and then in Benedict’s actual death. In other words, the funeral was the second half of a celebration that began with the vacant seat on February 28, 2013.
Finally, Apostolici Dominici Gregis, the constitution of John Paul II that regulates the procedure after a papal death, states that the funeral rites of the deceased pope “must be celebrated for nine consecutive days, determining when they are to begin, viz so that, except for special reasons, burial takes place between the fourth and sixth days after death.”
According to these norms, Benedict’s funeral was celebrated within this period. However, there will not be nine consecutive days of mourning, although suffrage masses of the soul of Benedict XVI. to be celebrated.
Finally, a curiosity: Benedict XVI. did not wear the broken fisherman’s ring at the end of his pontificate as a procedure. Instead, he wore the ring of St. Benedict, which mimicked the symbols of the St. Benedict medallion and symbolized his unique connection with the saint of Nursia, co-patron of Europe.
Andrea Gagliarducci is an Italian journalist for the Catholic News Agency and Vatican analyst for ACI Stampa. He is a staff member of the National Catholic Register.