Pope Benedict to concelebrate at Sunday's sainthood Mass

Vatican City — Retired Pope Benedict XVI will be attending Sunday's ceremony at the Vatican making Popes John XXIII and John Paul II saints of the Roman Catholic church and will concelebrate at Mass with Pope Francis and thousands of other cardinals, bishops, and priests, the Vatican announced Saturday.

Like many other things surrounding Benedict -- the first pope to resign in six centuries -- the announcement is historic, representing the first time a reigning pope will celebrate Mass with his predecessor. It also raises the specter of two living lives popes together honoring two of their predecessors.

Benedict, Vatican spokesman Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi said at a briefing Saturday, "has accepted an invitation to attend" from Francis. The former pontiff, said Lombardi, will not be celebrating at the altar with Francis, but will be sitting with other concelebrating prelates under a tent in St. Peter's Square.

We say: Charlottesville reveals the weeping wound of racism. What do we, the American Catholic faith community, do next? Read the editorial.

Around one million people are expected to converge near the Vatican from around the world Sunday for the event in the Square, during which Francis is naming Popes John XXIII and John Paul II as saints. John led the Catholic church from 1958-63; John Paul II from 1978-2005.

At a briefing Thursday, the Vatican said it expects other concelebrates for the Mass to include about 150 cardinals; 1,000 bishops; and 6,000 priests. Some 270 deacons will also attending to help with the distribution of communion.

[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR national correspondent. His email address is jmcelwee@ncronline.org. Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]

Support independent reporting on important issues.

 One family graphic_2016_250x103.jpg

Show comments

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at Disqus.com/verify.
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

Commenting is available during business hours, Central time, USA. Commenting is not available in the evenings, over weekends and on holidays. More details are available here. Comments are open on NCR's Facebook page.