It is rumoured that detailed arrangements for the funeral of the Pope Emeritus have already been submitted to Pope Francis.

Dear Frank,

Predecessor problems, of course, are a new thing for Popes, but spare a thought for those of us who have two – living I mean.

I can see that the funeral is going to present problems. Fortunately it’s not like that for us. Rowan will probably go quietly, in a dreary suburban crematorium on the outskirts of Swansea. And George will probably make it to Kensall Green, if he doesn’t follow his own advice and top himself in Switzerland.

But Benedict, I can see, is quite another matter: the first time a Pope has presided at a Papal funeral. Tricky! You wouldn’t want the whole thing televised, with a line-up of world leaders in St Peter’s Square (who might not turn out for your own final appearance). And the sort of emotional scenes that followed John Paul’s obsequies: Santo subito! There are quite enough recently sanctified Popes without lumbering yourself with another one.


I should try to persuade the Old Man to opt for a quiet requiem back home in Bavaria, if I were you. Walter Kasper is an old colleague, and he can be very persuasive as you know. And then there’s the brother.

Of course there is always the possibility that you might die first: then the problem would be Benedict’s!

With all good wishes,


P.S. You asked about the outcome of the Primates’ Meeting. Least said; soonest mended. Not my finest hour.

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