Benedict XVI, the paradox of the day of the funeral: there will be no mourning in the Vatican, while in Italy the government orders flags at half

Mourning not in the Vatican, but in Italy, on the day of the funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. A note from Palazzo Chigi states that “on the occasion of the solemn funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the Presidency of the Council has arranged for January 5, 2023 the flag at half-mast of national and European flags on public buildings of the entire national territory”. No provision of this kind has been issued, however, in the smallest state in the worldwhere mourning was not proclaimed on the day in which Pope Francis will preside over the funeral of his predecessor. This is because, they explain in the sacred palaces, in the Vatican mourning is foreseen only with the death of the reigning Pope which opens the period of the Vacant See, i.e. the time span that goes from the end of one papacy to the beginning of the next with the election of the new Pope in conclave.

In a circular from the Governorate of Vatican City State, we read: “Employees who wish to participate in the funeral they will not have to stamp entrance and will be able to access St. Peter’s Square from 6.30 am until seats are exhausted”. However, the Vatican offices will remain open, while the annona, the supermarket located within the state, it will only close during the funeral. The confirmation also came from the director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Matthew Bruni: “Tomorrow in the Vatican all the offices will remain open as normal, but employees who wish to do so will be able to attend the funeral, provided however that the functioning of all essential activities be guaranteed”.

The disposition of the Italian government clashes with what was decided by the Vatican and witnessed since the death of the Pope Emeritus. All the passages that have taken place so far, from the house of the deceased, the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, to the Vatican Basilica, have in fact been marked by a notable sobriety which has remarked, with quite eloquent language, that it is not a matter of the death of the reigning pope. The body of Benedict XVI, clad in papal vestments, but without any sign indicating his jurisdiction at the time of death, was transferred to the Vatican Basilica, at dawn on January 2, 2023, privately, on a simple van. The entrance into the sacred building took place through the Prayer Door, side access of St. Peter’s Basilica, where for three days it was exposed to the public veneration of the faithful. Inside the state, everything continued to take place regularly and Bergoglio’s agenda has not undergone any changes. No public events have been cancelled and not even the traditional Christmas decorations in the Vatican have been turned off.

In addition to Italy, Portugal also proclaimed national mourning on the day of the funeral. Decision taken by the President of the Portuguese Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who will attend Ratzinger’s funeral mass together with numerous heads of state and government. The Vatican Secretariat of State has specified that theirs will be one personal presence not being the funeral of a head of state. The protocol, as regards the official delegations, was reduced to the essentials, inviting only Italy, represented by the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, and Germany, represented by the President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who will be accompanied by the chancellor Olaf Scholz. Even different Länder of Germany, the birthplace of Benedict XVI, will display the flags at half-mast as a sign of mourning on the occasion of the funeral of the Pope Emeritus. During the funeral, at the disposal of the German Bishops’ Conference, the bells of the Catholic churches of all 27 dioceses of the country will strike the hammer.

Twitter: @FrancescoGrana

Benedict XVI, the paradox of the day of the funeral: there will be no mourning in the Vatican, while in Italy the government orders flags at half-mast – Il Fatto Quotidiano