ROME — Pope Francis hailed his late predecessor Benedict XVI during his weekly general audience in the Vatican on Wednesday as the faithful continued to pay their respects to the former pontiff who died on New Year’s Eve.
“I would like us to join with those here beside us who are paying their respects to Benedict XVI, and to turn my thoughts to him, a great master of catechesis,” said Francis, who will preside over Benedict’s funeral in St. Peter’s Square on Thursday.
“His acute and gentle thought was not self-referential, but ecclesial, because he always wanted to accompany us in the encounter with Jesus,” he said.
“Jesus, Crucified and Risen, the Living One and the Lord, was the destination to which Pope Benedict led us, taking us by the hand. May he help us rediscover in Christ the joy of believing and the hope of living,” Francis said.
Wednesday is the third and final day of Benedict’s lying in state in St. Peter’s Basilica before his funeral.
Over 135,000 people visited the Basilica on Monday and Tuesday, the Vatican said. (ANSA)