Ex-Pope Benedict at Papal Ceremony for First Time Since Quitting

Saturday, 22 Feb 2014 06:33 AM


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VATICAN CITY   — Former Pope Benedict made a surprise appearance at St. Peter's Basilica on Saturday to attend a ceremony at which his successor, Pope Francis, was elevating 19 prelates to the high rank of cardinal.

Benedict, 86, who resigned a year ago, sat quietly wearing a long white overcoat in the front row along with other cardinals. It was the first time he has attended a papal ceremony since his resignation, although he and Francis have met several times.

Francis: Pope’s Hidden Life Revealed.

When he reached the front of the basilica to start the ceremony, Pope Francis went greet Benedict, who took off his white skull cap in a sign of respect and obedience to Francis.

Even though the crowd inside the basilica had been asked to refrain from applause during the ceremony, they clapped when Benedict walked in and again when his name was mentioned in an opening address by one of the new cardinals.

Benedict became the first pope to resign in 600 years when he stepped down on Feb. 28, 2013. Francis was elected the first non-European pope in 1,300 years two weeks later.

Pope Francis appointed 19 new cardinals hailing from all over the world including some of the poorest countries such as Haiti, Burkina Faso and the Ivory Coast.
The new cardinals, or “Princes of the Church” as they are called, were formally installed during a ceremony at St. Peter’s Basilica today in Rome after receiving their traditional red hats. The new group includes 16 prelates eligible to vote for the next pope and three cardinals emeriti, over the age of 80, who are being recognized for their service to the church.
The youngest cardinal in the group is Chibly Langlois, 55, from Haiti, the island that suffered a devastating earthquake in 2010 and deaths and destruction from Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Pope Francis has put the world’s destitute high on his agenda since becoming leader of the world’s Catholics in March 2013.
From visiting poor migrants on the Italian island of Lampedusa to washing the feet of prison inmates, Francis has stressed the need for Church hierarchy to be closer to people on the margins of society.
Francis: Pope’s Hidden Life Revealed.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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