By Manuel Schwarz, dpa l Wednesday, January 4, 2023
BAVARIA – Pope Francis has described his late predecessor Benedict XVI as a great communicator of the faith. The late pontiff was a “great master of catechesis,” Francis said on Wednesday morning at the start of the general audience in the Vatican. Catechesis is the term used in the Catholic Church to describe the communication and explanation of the Christian faith.
“His acute and gentle thought was not self-referential, but ecclesial, because he always wanted to accompany us in the encounter with Jesus,” Francis said of the Bavarian-born priest, who died on New Year’s Eve at the age of 95.
“Jesus, crucified and risen, the living one and the lord, was the destination to which pope Benedict led us, taking us by the hand. May he help us rediscover in Christ the joy of believing and the hope of living,” Francis added.
Earlier, he had appeared with the faithful who were paying their last respects to the late Benedict in St Peter’s Basilica.
Addressing the German pilgrims, Francis said: “In the words of our dearly departed Benedict XVI, I would like to call out to you: ‘He who believes is never alone! He who has God as his Father has many brothers and sisters. In these days we experience in a special way how comprehensive this pilgrim fellowship of faith is and that it does not end even with death.”
St Peter’s Basilica was opened for the third day on Wednesday morning so that the faithful could bid farewell to Benedict XVI, who was lying in state there.
The late pope emeritus is scheduled to lie in front of the main altar in the basilica in the Vatican until 7 pm (1800 GMT) before he is placed in a wooden coffin for the public funeral service and subsequent burial on Thursday.
On Monday and Tuesday, according to the Vatican gendarmerie, a total of around 90,000 people came to St Peter’s Basilica and passed by his body.