The Vatican itself does not know
What happens after Benedict’s death?
Pope Emeritus Benedict is apparently dying. What happens after his death is unclear. There is a specific procedure in the Vatican when a pope dies. Benedict resigned as pontiff in 2013.
Pope Benedict is very ill. Apparently the 95-year-old is dying.
The Vatican regulates in detail what to do when a pope dies. However, almost all regulations – such as the conclave to elect a new Catholic leader – relate to the death of an incumbent pope. Like the screenplay for the death of the emeritus pontiff Benedict XVI. (95) might look like is unclear. No wonder, after all, no pope resigned for more than 700 years.
Benedict, who comes from Bavaria, resigned from the office of Pope in February 2013 in a highly unusual step for health reasons. With his resignation, communicated in Latin, he wrote church history: Benedict was the first pope since 1415 to give up the office of head of the Catholic Church.
As can be heard from the Vatican, Pope Francis (86) regulated the process after the death of his predecessor and agreed with the master of ceremonies. The plan has not yet been made public.
Usually the cardinals organize after the death of a pope
According to the 1996 Apostolic Constitution “Universi Dominici Gregis” written by John Paul II (1920-2005), the Cardinal Vicar of Rome should inform the population about the death of the Pope. In the meantime, however, experts assume that the Holy See will issue a press release. A number of other regulations, such as the continuation of official business, do not have to be applied when Benedict dies, because Francis is in office and there is therefore no vacancy in the see, i.e. no vacant papal chair.
Normally, after the death of a pope, the cardinals organize funeral ceremonies for nine days. It is unlikely that this will also be so long with Benedict. The native Bavarian is pretty sure to get a burial as Pope in St. Peter’s Basilica, similar to his predecessors. Francis should celebrate the funeral service himself, as far as he can because of his knee pain.
He wants to be buried in the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica
It will be interesting to see which political dignitaries will come to the funeral – also from Germany. As pontifex, Benedict was the head of the Papal States; however, recent developments surrounding decades of abuse scandals cast a shadow over the life and work of the former Pope. This could cause some politicians not to travel to Rome. Many cardinals – especially those whom Benedict himself brought into the College of Cardinals during his pontificate – are likely to come.
As the Adnkronos news agency reported, Benedict had already indicated in 2020 that he wanted to be buried in the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica. As the exact place he chose the first grave of John Paul II in the papal tomb. The popular Pole lay there until the mortal remains were taken to a chapel in the right aisle of Peter’s Basilica after his beatification in 2011. (SDA/jmh)