Pope Francis on Thursday presided over the funeral mass for former Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who died on Saturday morning at the age of 95, bringing an end to a days-long memorial as thousands of mourners attended the ceremony in St. Peter's Square.
In a short homily honoring Benedict, Francis called the late pope a "faithful friend" of Jesus and recalled how Jesus' last words summed up the "ceaseless self-entrustment" to God that had defined Benedict's life.
Pope Benedict was a revered teacher, a theologian, and a resolute conservative. His shocking resignation in 2013 was an extraordinary act of humility, which humanized the papacy. Not only will he be remembered as the first pope to step down, but also the first to tackle sexual abuse scandals in the church. After his resignation, Benedict remained a powerful conservative influence and continued to give his soul to a legacy that will forever stand.
A hard-line conservative, Benedict XVI did accrue major achievements during his papal tenure, including the courageous act of resigning and kick-starting Vatican Bank reforms, but he failed to successfully combat the church's greatest crisis –clerical child abuse. Despite having enormous power to end internal corruption, he became a prisoner of indecision and abided by the Roman Curia's brotherhood.
Pope Benedict's death could reshape the Catholic Church. The Vatican has had a pope and an ex-pope since Benedict retired in 2013. With Benedict's passing, a sitting pope will preside over his predecessor's funeral, and the Church will not elect a pontiff — a first. Eventually, the Church may have to normalize the resignation of a pope and set new protocols in the event of an ex-Pope's demise.
There's a 50% chance that the Catholic Church will elect a new Pope by April 2025, according to the Metaculus prediction community.