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Coffin of Benedict XVI taken to St. Peter's Basilica

After the funeral mass for the late Pope Benedict XVI.

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Coffin of Benedict XVI taken to St. Peter's Basilica

After the funeral mass for the late Pope Benedict XVI. his coffin was carried into St. Peter's Basilica on Thursday to applause from the faithful. Pope Francis had previously celebrated the requiem for his predecessor in St. Peter's Square. He bowed to the coffin, touched it and blessed it.

Pope Benedict, whose real name is Joseph Ratzinger, was to be buried in camera in the crypt of St. Peter's Basilica. His tomb is that of his predecessor John Paul II, who was buried in St. Peter's Basilica after his beatification.

Even after the funeral mass for Benedict XVI, who died on New Year's Eve at the age of 95, there were very few calls of "Santo subito" ("Immediately holy") from the mourners. This demand was also written on a large banner that some believers held up. While Benedict's coffin was carried into St. Peter's Basilica, the brass band of the Unterpfaffenhofen volunteer fire department played the Bavarian anthem.

The highest representatives of the constitutional bodies travel from Germany. Among others, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) will be there. Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) is traveling from Bavaria with a delegation. The Catholic Church in Germany will be represented, among others, by the chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, Georg Bätzing, and the Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki. Cardinal Reinhard Marx (Munich and Freising), Rudolf Voderholzer (Regensburg), Stefan Oster (Passau) and the former Archbishop of Bamberg, Ludwig Schick, are coming from the Bavarian dioceses.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. – whose real name is Joseph Ratzinger – was laid out in St. Peter’s Basilica from Monday to Wednesday. During this time, 195,000 people came to the basilica to say goodbye. Benedict died at 9:34 a.m. on New Year's Eve in his Vatican residence Mater Ecclesiae. The convent in the Vatican Gardens was his final home in the years following his 2013 resignation.

The Vatican has not yet provided any information on the exact cause of death. His longtime confidant and private secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, told the Vatican's own media portal Vatican News on Wednesday that his agony should not have lasted longer than 45 minutes. According to him, Benedict's last words in Italian were "Lord, I love you". In the days before his death he had had breathing problems. "Now he's done it," added Gänswein.

In the general audience on December 28 last year, Pope Francis asked for prayer for Benedict because he was “very ill”. This was the first time he made public that his predecessor, who resigned in 2013, ex-head of the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and former Archbishop of Munich and Freising, was doing poorly.

Since his resignation, Benedict has lived in seclusion in Mater Ecclesiae. In 2022, the past caught up with him again with the publication of the Munich abuse report. The experts accused him of misconduct during his time as archbishop.

The Eckiger Tisch victims' association called on the delegation from Germany, who was now arriving for the funeral, to side with the victims of abuse in Rome. She should counter the "myth formation about the role of the deceased" in relation to the exposure of child sexual abuse by clerics of the Catholic Church, it said in a statement.

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