Just two official state delegations — from Italy and Germany — will attend the funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the Vatican’s press office has confirmed, answering one of the many novel protocol questions posed by the death of a pope emeritus.
The German-born Benedict, formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, lived in Italy for more than 40 years, beginning in 1981. The Holy See Press Office confirmed on Dec. 31 that the two countries were sending official representatives to the funeral, which will be on Thursday.
Both Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Italian Prime Minister Geogia Meloni paid their respects to the late pontiff Monday morning at St. Peter’s Basilica, where his body will lie in state through Jan. 4. While there, Meloni offered her condolences to Benedict’s longtime personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein.
According to the news magazine Der Spiegel, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will attend Benedict’s funeral on Thursday in an official capacity.
The protocols after the death of a reigning pope have in the past provided a well-known set of rituals, but the death of a pope emeritus presents a unique situation. Speculation about whether he would be buried in papal dress or that of a cardinal has been accompanied by other questions surrounding who will attend the funeral in an official capacity since Benedict XVI is no longer a head of state.Benedict XVI’s funeral: Only 2 countries will send official delegations – Catholic World Report