VATICAN CITY — Now ends the final day for pilgrims to pay their respects to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, with Heads of State being among the estimated 200k to visit St Peter’s Basilica over the last three days. Listed among the world leaders were the presidents and prime ministers of Poland, Portugal, Germany, Italy, Hungary, and Slovenia, with royal families from Spain, Belgium, and Germany. Notably missing — leadership from the United States.
During a press conference on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated that the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Joe Donnelly, would represent the United States at the funeral of the Pope. “This is what — this is what their requests were. This is what their wishes were,” she stated when asked why the president would not attend.
Upon hearing that the Vatican requested the president send a representative rather than attend himself, The Daily Wire inquired with the Vatican Press Office on the specifics to this “request.” Although he did not respond directly to our inquiry, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni told Euro News that “if other heads of state or government come, they will do so in a personal capacity,” seeming to place the choice of attendance on the individual leaders — as seen by the number of leaders who have chosen to pay their respects — seeming to contradict Jean-Pierre’s assertions. Bruni confirmed to journalists that only two state delegations were “officially invited” to the funeral.
The Vatican released several articles previewing what is to be expected at tomorrow’s funeral, through its state-run media organization. Pope Francis will preside over his predecessor’s liturgy, the first pope to do so since 1802, when Pius VII presided over a solemn funeral of Pius VI — who died in exile as a prisoner of Napoleon Bonaparte.
The Vatican stated on Tuesday that the late Pope Emeritus would be placed in a cypress coffin, and interred within the former tomb of Pope St. John Paul II within St. Peter’s Basilica crypt, per his request. The Holy See also made it clear that changes to the liturgy would take place, simplifying it and removing rites relevant to the death of a reigning pontiff, once more seeming to set precedence for future popes emeriti, if resignations were to occur in the future.
The Daily Wire will be covering the historic funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on Thursday.