The Funeral of Benedict XVI: No bells, no flags at half-staff

Even before the news of Benedict XVI’s death became known, Santa Marta (Vatican administrative headquarters) had declared that it would be business as usual, as if nothing had happened. No bells were rung and no flags were flown at half-staff in Vatican City. (For this and other details, see Rorate Caeli:

It is an act that shows no respect for the former Pope.

Benedict XVI’s funeral was held on January 5. In regard to that, an order was issued that all official delegations, except those of Italy and Germany, were not to attend the funeral.

However, delegations from many countries attended anyway, saying,

“We will attend the funeral in a personal capacity, not as officials.”

To the best of my knowledge, such an order has never been issued before. A funeral, and the death of a man who was also the Pope, is supposed to attract a large number of people. It is strange to think that there was some fear of the Coronavirus. Is there some other satisfactory justification?

Benedict XVI’s funeral itself was also very plain and simple.

According to the Vatican, it was his wish. I guess only God knows if they are telling the truth.

I was also surprised at the shortness of the Mass.

The priest is free to choose from four different patterns for the modern Mass; the longest of the four is the most formal, closer to the traditional style of the medieval Mass. For the funeral Mass of Benedict XVI, the second longest of the four was chosen. I was expecting that, unquestionably, since he was a former Pope, Benedict XVI would be honored with the most formal Mass. I was disappointed; it was the second-longest one. (The shortest Mass is often used for the weekly Sunday Mass, so that was indeed not possible.)

Why was I so concerned about the length of the Mass?

Because the Mass is a prayer and offering to God. The Mass is also the center and most important part of the religious life of Catholics. Such an important Mass was short. What that short Mass conveys is the nuance that we should end the prayer for Benedict XVI as soon as possible, and end it with as little ceremony as possible.