Faithful in Rome mourn former pope Benedict

Visitors to St Peter’s Square on Saturday paid tribute to former Pope Benedict, who died earlier in the day at the age of 95.

One Rome resident described him as a “charismatic pope, humble but above all a great theologian.”

The Vatican said Benedict’s body would lie in state from Monday in St. Peter’s Basilica and his funeral will be held on January 5. Pope Francis will preside over the ceremony, which will take place in the huge square in front of the basilica.

Members of the public in Munich, Germany had mixed views on former Pope Benedict.

“He was a relatively conservative pope,” Thomas Keller described the German pope emeritus in front of Munich’s Frauenkirche. Former Pope Benedict, a Bavarian native, was appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising in 1977. Another visitor of the Frauenkirche had hoped the Pope to end an age-old tradition.

“I thought when he came to power he would finally bring some fresh air into the Catholic Church and do an end to celibacy,” Christa Herwig, an elderly German lady said. “But unfortunately, he disappointed me.”

Former Pope Benedict, who died on Saturday aged 95, was the first pontiff in 600 years to resign, leaving behind a Catholic Church battered by sexual abuse scandals, mired in mismanagement and polarized between conservatives and progressives.