Death of Benedict XVI: faithful hail “a great pope”

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Death of Benedict XVI: faithful hail “a great pope”

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will be remembered as the first pope in 600 years to resign.

“A great pope, despite the criticism”: it is with sadness and prayers that the faithful reacted on Saturday morning in St. Peter's Square when the announcement of the death of Benedict XVI.

I am very sad, confides a 30-year-old Italian faithful, Davide Di Tommaso, who came a few minutes after the official Vatican announcement.

I knew it at the very moment, he says, pointing to the majestic square enclosed by Bernini's famous colonnade. We are truly devastated.

Benedict XVI's body will be on display from Monday in the solemn setting of St. Peter's Basilica, which overlooks the square. In view of the preparations, access to the basilica and the square will be closed to the public at midday, as indicated by a message broadcast on giant screens.

Charbel Youssef, a 31-year-old Frenchman on a pilgrimage with a group, has also just heard the news.

“The first reaction is prayer […] We prayed, we made the sign of the cross for the salvation of his soul.

—Charbel Youssef, French Faithful

He was a fighting pope who deeply loved the Church. He really fulfilled his role as pastor on earth, he comments about the pontificate of Benedict XVI, who surprised the whole world when he resigned in 2013 for health reasons.

Many journalists settled in St. Peter's Square, Vatican.

On the outskirts of the square, under a big blue sky, journalists are setting up for the first television sets while the faithful and tourists learn the news little by little, often by a notification received on their smartphone.

Why all this media? wonders an English-speaking tourist. Ah, Benedict XVI is dead? I knew he was very sick, she adds, looking sorry. Many tourists continue to take selfies in front of the nativity scene and the tree, indifferent to the news.

Nuns outside St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican on Saturday, December 31, 2022.

After eight years of pontificate (2005-2013) marked by multiple crises, Benedict XVI was overtaken at the beginning of 2022 by the pedocrime scandal within the Church. Questioned by a report produced in Germany on his handling of sexual violence when he was Archbishop of Munich, he broke his silence to ask for forgiveness, but assured that he had never covered up a paedocriminal.

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“Despite criticism, he was truly a great pope. »

— Davide Di Tommaso, faithful Italian

I remember the great charity that animated him, underlines Charbel Youssef for his part.

An American tourist, Michael Dauphinee, for his part, reflects on the fascinating decision of Joseph Ratzinger to resign, a first for a pope since the Middle Ages.

Find the courage to say ''I am not what my Church needs right now'', I believe that is a truly impressive decision, in a world where people struggle for power.

I personally am a Protestant, but as a leader he set a great example of how to accept your own limitations , he adds, again hailing a landmark decision.

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