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Vatican Would Enter Uncharted Territory if Ex-Pope Die

pope francis vatican media file photo 2022

Usually, time-honored rituals are triggered by the passing of a pope, but with ex-pontiff Benedict XVI’s deteriorating health, the Vatican is in unusual territory.

In 2013, Joseph Ratzinger, 95, the first pontiff to resign in six centuries, was reported last week to be seriously ill.

Unlike when other popes have passed away, Pope Francis is still in office, therefore there would be no need to convene a conclave to elect a new pontiff.

However, the Vatican has steadfastly declined to provide details about what else would take place after Benedict’s passing.

Most observers anticipate Pope Benedict will be buried at the Vatican, either in St. Peter’s Basilica or the huge square in front of it.

According to Claudio Magnoli, a liturgical specialist, “from a liturgical point of view, I assume that when the burial takes place, it will essentially be the ritual envisaged for papal funerals.”

The significant distinction is that, unlike in the past, when the dean of cardinals or a selected cardinal presided, Francis, the current pope, might preside over it.

A pope must be buried between four and six days after passing away, per regulations established in 1996.

The cardinals, who convene from all around the world and also plan the Vatican’s nine days of mourning, known as novemdiales, normally decide how and when he is buried.

They make their decision based on the fact that when a pope dies, there is typically a power vacuum at the head of the church.

In this instance, Francis is in command, so there is no such vacuum.

In 2005, Ratzinger, who was a senior cardinal at the time, officiated at a funeral mass in St. Peter’s Square for John Paul II, the last pope to pass away.

Along with head of states from around the world, an estimated million people attended.

According to media sources from 2020, Benedict decided to be interred in the crypt of St. Peter’s beside the previous tomb of Pope John Paul II.

When the adored Polish pope was beatified in 2011, his body was transferred to the upper section of the basilica. In 2014, he was declared a saint.

The funeral of Benedict, a conservative thinker who was not as well-liked as John Paul II, the pope from 1978 to 2005, is still expected to bring sizable crowds and dignitaries.

The “Fisherman’s Ring,” a signet ring made especially for each new pope and traditionally used to seal papers, is typically destroyed when a pope passes away.

The face of Benedict’s ring was permanently altered with a “X” when he departed his position of authority.

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