The richness of the tribute goes to Benoît, who wanted simplicity

VATICAN CITY (AP) – Minutes after the announcement of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI On Saturday morning, a multitude of tributes poured in from around the world, as the Vatican revealed that the late pontiff would be offered a “simple” funeral, performed by Pope Francis in accordance with his wishes.

Words of praise and fond memories poured in from world leaders and religious figures, including the Archbishop of Canterbury and Jewish advocates.

But others, including LGBTQ+ advocates, were remembered to mark the passing of Benedict, 95, before he was elected pontiff in 2005, such as Cardinal Joseph Ratzingerhe had long served as the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog, ensuring unwavering orthodoxy on issues such as homosexual activity, which the Catholic Church considers a sin.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said Francis will celebrate a solemn but sober funeral in St. Peter’s Square on Thursday with rites that, “following the Pope Emeritus’ desire, will be performed under the sign of simplicity.”

Benedict, 95, died in the austere Vatican monastery where he resided shortly after shocking the world by retiring in 2013. Frail for years, the health of Benedict XVI deteriorated earlier this week, according to the Vatican.

From Monday, the faithful will be able to parade with his body in Saint Peter’s Basilica.

The square was festive with a towering Christmas tree and a life-size nativity scene. Hundreds of tourists strolled through the square, many of whom were unaware that Benedict had died at his secluded residence in the Vatican Gardens.

Benedict “prayed in silence, as he should,” said Fabrizio Giambrone, a tourist from Sicily who recalled the late pontiff as a “very good person” who lacked the “charisma” of his predecessor, St John. -Paul II, and his successor, Pope Francis.

Laura Camila Rodriguez, 16, visiting from Bogota, Colombia, with her parents, said she was traveling on a train bound for Rome earlier on Saturday when she learned of Benedict XVI’s death.

“It was a shock, but it’s probably good for him that he can now rest in peace, at his age,” she said. “I think Francis is a good pope, he was a good successor, able to lead the Catholic Church.”

While the festive atmosphere was palpable in the square of the small Bavarian town where Ratzinger was born in 1927, the church bells rang solemnly at St. Oswald’s Church in Marktl am Inn, near the Austrian border.

World leaders, Jewish advocates and the Archbishop of Canterbury were among those mourning the death.

The American Jewish Committee, in a statement from New York, commended Benedict for “pursuing the path of reconciliation and friendship with world Jewry charted by his predecessor, John Paul II.” The organization noted that the German-born Catholic church leader had “paid homage at Auschwitz” to Holocaust victims and paid an official visit to Israel.

“He condemned anti-Semitism as a sin against God and man, and he emphasized the unique relationship between Christianity and Judaism,” the statement said.

Praise for Benedict’s religious devotion came from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. “In his life and ministry, Pope Benedict XVI has led people to Christ,” the Anglican leader tweeted.

“I join Pope Francis and the entire Catholic Church in mourning his death. May he rest in the peace of Christ and rise in glory with all the saints.

Nicknamed “God’s Rottweiller” for his fierce defense of Catholic teaching during the decades he headed the Vatican’s office of doctrinal orthodoxy.Benedict was viewed with less enthusiasm by some for his stance on homosexuality and against women’s desire to break with the church’s ban on female priests.

In this role, Ratzinger “had an outsized influence on the church’s approach to gay and lesbian people and issues,” said Francis De Bernardo, executive director of the US-based New Ways Ministry. United, which defends LGBTQ+ Catholics. He noted that Ratzinger in 1986 helped shape a document that called homosexual orientation an “objective disorder” and his involvement in a 1994 catechism describing same-sex sexual activity as “acts of gross depravity”. .

“These documents have caused – and still do – serious pastoral harm” to many LGBTQ+ people, De Bernardo said, while noting that his organization was praying for the rest of Benedict’s soul.

Francis has used his papacy to try to strike a less critical tone against gay Catholics.

While hailing Benedict XVI’s “profound example of humility and willingness to overthrow tradition” in stepping down, advocates of opening up the priesthood to women expressed dismay at his refusal to embrace their goals.

“For many Catholics, Pope Benedict’s papacy is a chapter in our church’s history that we are still healing from,” said Kate McElwee, executive director of the Women’s Ordination Conference. “His relentless pursuit to stifle the movement for women’s ordination has exposed a man who is unwilling or unable to meet the urgent needs of the church today.”


Paolo Santalucia in the Vatican and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this story.


Follow AP’s coverage of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at

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