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A funeral for a Pope

There has only been one funeral for a Pope during my lifetime: John Paul II, in 2005, one of history’s longest serving popes. Today will see my second, this time of the longest lived pope—and the first Papal funeral in modern history to be presided over by another Pope.

They say the Vatican works to a schedule of centuries rather than days or weeks. We know that today’s events (however ‘low-key’) will be historic. Yet, it may be centuries before we can judge with clarity whether the funeral brings to a close an aberrance in which a Pope succeeded a living Pope, or whether Benedict XVI has reformed how Papacy ends.

I’m not going to bet on it—not least as I don’t plan to be around a few centuries hence to collect my winnings—but I think the latter is more likely. Once the genie of resignation is released, it quickly becomes an expectation, especially as health declines. I suspect today won’t be the only occasion in my lifetime that a Pope conducts the funeral of his predecessor.

This post was filed under: News and Comment, Post-a-day 2023, .

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