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Uncertain Funeral Plans For Pope Benedict

The Catholic Church has found itself in rare territory, as a living pope — Pope Francis — prepares on Thursday to preside over the funeral of his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who died on Saturday at 95. No one quite knows what the first funeral for a pope emeritus will look like; Matteo Bruni, the Vatican spokesman, has said it would be “simple” and “solemn but sober,” in keeping with Benedict’s wishes. Official delegations from Germany, Benedict’s homeland, and Italy will be present, but it is not yet clear whether other nations will send representatives. The Vatican said that Benedict’s body would be displayed to the faithful for a final “farewell” in St. Peter’s Basilica for three days starting on Monday morning. Until then, his remains will stay at Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, where he lived during his nearly 10-year post-papacy, before being ultimately buried in the Vatican grottoes. “We are moved as we recall him as such a noble person, so kind,” Francis said on Saturday. “And we feel such gratitude in our hearts: gratitude to God for having given him to the church and to the world; gratitude to him for all the good he accomplished, and above all, for his witness of faith and prayer, especially in these last years of his recollected life.” Benedict was a quiet scholar of diamond-hard intellect who spent much of his life enforcing church doctrine and defending tradition before shocking the Roman Catholic world by becoming the first pope in six centuries to resign.

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