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By John M. Grondelski, The Catholic Thing, Jan. 17, 2023
John Grondelski (Ph.D., Fordham) is a former associate dean of the School of Theology, Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey. All views herein are exclusively his.
Pope Francis’s brief homily at the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI produced something of a controversy. Critics complain that it was cramped and impersonal, devoid of any meaningful references to his predecessor. The one sentence in the final paragraph that explicitly mentioned Benedict could be spoken of virtually any Catholic.
In Francis’s defense, some commentators contend the homily was Christocentric, others have claimed that such a perspective would have tallied both with Benedict’s own theological focus and self-effacing humility. One defender added that “comparisons to 2005 [i.e., John Paul II’s funeral]. . .serve no purpose, as circumstances were different” because Benedict was not the incumbent pope. Others have pointed out that funeral homilies are not eulogies. So Francis’s approach was liturgically correct. Jesuit Cardinal Michael Czerny characterized the homily as pastoral, a “spiritual tribute,” explaining that a “eulogy or panegyric” belonged in “another time and place.” …