Francis' Funeral Homily Upsets Benedict Supporters

Some find sermon generic, though the pope emeritus had requested simplicity
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 5, 2023 7:10 PM CST
Francis' Funeral Homily Upsets Benedict Supporters
Pope Francis touches the coffin of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI before it is carried away after a funeral mass Thursday at the Vatican.   (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

"You could have given the same homily for anybody, any cardinal, any bishop or even the butcher next door." "It was almost as if Pope Francis had gone to his files and looked under the file 'funeral homily.'" "He could have delivered this homily for his butler." Pope Francis' sermon during his predecessor's funeral at the Vatican on Thursday disappointed, at a minimum, the people quoted above and others, especially those particularly fond of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the New York Times reports. The homily was short, and complaints followed that it was so generic and lacking in personality as to be disrespectful.

Francis has moved away from some policies of the orthodox Benedict, and there are American Catholics opposed to that who saw the differences between the two popes as being behind the bare-bones homily. It mostly focused on the last words of Jesus, from the Gospel reading earlier in the Mass, per the Wall Street Journal, rather anything specific to Benedict. Francis' sermon was unlike the one Benedict delivered for Pope John Paul II, a more enthusiastic tribute. But Benedict had asked for a simple service, and it wasn't a given that it would include the pomp or eloquence that a funeral for a sitting pope would have.

Michael Hesemann, a biographer and friend of Benedict who attended the funeral and made the "butcher" comment, said the pope emeritus deserved better even if he had requested a relatively low-key funeral. Still, he wouldn't have been upset, Hesemann said, because "he was the most forgiving person." Advisers to Francis said he merely focused on the role as a pastor, which is of great importance to the current pope. "The Holy Father gave a beautiful homily reflecting on the mission of a pastor, in closest imitation of Christ," said Canadian Cardinal Michael Czerny. Larry Chapp, an American theologian, said expectations may have been misguided for a pope not known as a "thunderous orator" in any situation. (More Pope Benedict XVI stories.)

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