24 April 2014, The Tablet

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to concelebrate canonisation Mass

by James Macintyre in Rome

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will attend the Mass for the canonisations of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II, the Vatican said today. 

In an historic first, Pope Francis and the Pope Emeritus will concelebrate the Mass.

But, Vatican Radio reported, the Pope Emeritus will not be at the altar, but with the cardinals and bishops on the left side of the sanctuary.

It will be only the second time the Pope Emeritus, 87, will have attended a public liturgical function in the Vatican since he resigned in February 2013. He took part February's consistory the Archbishopof Westminster, Vincent Nichols, was made a cardinal.

There has been much speculation over whether Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI would attend Sunday's canonisations.

On Thursday the Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said: "The Pope Emeritus has been invited; we'll be happy if he comes but we respect his liberty and [his] decision as to whether he is up to it," Fr Lombardi said. "There is nothing official about his coming. There is the desire: if he comes we'll all be happy; if he doesn't come we have no right to feel disappointed.”

Earlier, a senior Vatican source told The Tablet that the 87-year-old Pope Emeritus had not yet made his intentions clear, not least because the canonisation Mas "is a two-hour ceremony in the heat."

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