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Pope Francis presides over Benedict XVI's historic funeral

The last time a living pope presided over the funeral of his predecessor was in 1802.

Published: January 5, 2023 8:51am

Updated: January 5, 2023 9:49am

Pope Francis is presided Thursday over the funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as tens of thousands attend the historic requiem mass.  

Francis, 86, leaned on a cane as he spoke during his homily about the hands of God and devotion to the Catholic Church. He only briefly mentioned Benedict at the end of the sermon, according to the official Vatican transcript.

During a three-day public viewing, about 200,000 people paid their final respects to Benedict, who died Dec. 31, 2022, at age 95, after becoming the first pope to step down in nearly 600 years when he resigned in 2013.

The Vatican says about 50,000 people attended Thursday's funeral mass. Some of the public held banners and shouted, "Santo Subito!" which translates to "Sainthood Now!" 

Three of the last five popes have been canonized as saints.

The last time a living pope presided over the funeral of his predecessor was in 1802 when Pope Pius VII presided over the funeral of Pius VI, who died in exile in France.

Benedict cited failing health when he stepped down. His tenure has been overshadowed by accusations that mishandled sexual abuse by clergy.

The Vatican defended Benedict's legacy in an obituary Thursday.

"He resolutely fought against crimes committed by clergy against minors or vulnerable people, constantly calling the Church to conversion, prayer, penance and purification," the church said.

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