Pope praises ‘gentle’ Benedict

Francis is due to preside over the late German pope’s funeral on Thursday, an event that is drawing heads of state and royalty despite Benedict’s requests for simplicity and Vatican efforts to keep the first Vatican funeral for an emeritus pope in modern times low-key.

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World News

January 4, 2023 - 4:30 PM

The body of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI lies in state at St. Peter's Basilica on Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, in Rome, Italy. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images/TNS)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis praised Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s “acute and gentle thought” as he presided over a packed Wednesday general audience in the Vatican, while thousands of people paid tribute to the former pope on the final day of public viewing in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Francis was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd in the Paul VI auditorium and shouts of “Viva il papa!” or “Long live the pope” as he arrived for his weekly catechism appointment with the faithful.

This week’s audience was conducted while tens of thousands of people continued to flock to the Vatican to pay their respects to Benedict before the official viewing of his body ends Wednesday evening. From Monday through midday Wednesday, nearly 160,000 people had passed through the basilica, the Vatican said.

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