Screenshot of Joe Biden with then Pope Benedict XVI while he was Vice President. / EWTN News Nightly
Vatican City, Jan 4, 2023 / 06:33 am (CNA).
The White House press secretary has confirmed that President Joe Biden will not be attending the funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on Thursday.
In response to a question from journalist Owen Jensen with EWTN News on Jan. 3, Karine Jean-Pierre said that “the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Joe Donnelly will represent the United States at the funeral of the pope in line with the wishes of the late pope and the Vatican. This is what their requests were.”
Who will represent the US at Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s funeral? And what did the late Pope mean to Catholic President Joe Biden?
Correspondent @owentjensen asked White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre about both of these topics relating to Pope Benedict. pic.twitter.com/Iaahas5XMa
— EWTN News Nightly (@EWTNNewsNightly) January 3, 2023
The Vatican’s press office has confirmed that only two official state delegations — from Italy and Germany — were invited to the funeral of the late pope emeritus, which will be held on Jan. 5.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni told reporters that “following the wishes of the pope emeritus, the funeral will be held under the sign of simplicity,” stressing that it will be a “solemn but sober funeral.”
“The express request on the part of the emeritus pope is that everything be simple, both with regard to the funeral as well as the other celebrations and gestures during this time of pain,” he added.
While only two state delegations were officially invited to attend the funeral Mass for the pope emeritus, some heads of state and public figures have decided to attend the funeral in an unofficial capacity.
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, and Slovenian President Nataša Pirc Musar are among those who have already confirmed their attendance at Benedict XVI’s funeral in an unofficial capacity.
European royals Queen Sofia of Spain and King Philip and Queen Mathilde of Belgium are also planning to attend.
Jean-Pierre said that Biden “joins Catholics and so many others around the world in mourning the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. He will always remember the pope’s generosity and meaningful conversation they had when he visited the Vatican in 2011.”
Benedict XVI passed away on Dec. 31 at the age of 95. As confirmed by his personal secretary Archbishop Georg Gänswein, the pope emeritus’ last words were “Signore, ti amo!” (Lord, I love you).