Pope Benedict celebrates Mass to mark John Paul’s death, visits tomb
By John Thavis
Catholic News Service
Pope Benedict XVI blesses a child as he leaves a prayer service in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome.
(CNS photo from Catholic Press Photo)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass one month after the death of Pope John Paul II, then paid a private visit to the tomb of the late pontiff.
The pope said Mass early May 2 in his private chapel, concelebrating with Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, Pope John Paul's longtime private secretary.
In the evening, Pope Benedict went alone and knelt in prayer before Pope John Paul's tomb, in the underground grotto area of St. Peter's Basilica. The pope died at 9:37 p.m. April 2.
The basilica was closed for the day when Pope Benedict went to pray at the grave. Thousands of people have streamed past the tomb daily since it was opened to the public.
Pope Benedict has made it a point to refer to Pope John Paul in each of his public appearances since his election April 19, and he has emphasized that his papacy would continue along the lines established by his predecessor.
Meanwhile, in meetings and at events, the new pope has picked up where the late pope left off.
He has confirmed all of Pope John Paul's curial appointees, most of them for their current five-year term.
The Vatican has announced the pope will travel to Bari, Italy, at the end of May to close a eucharistic congress -- a trip that had been on Pope John Paul's schedule.
Pope Benedict also plans to travel to his native Germany in August to preside over celebrations for World Youth Day, a tradition begun by Pope John Paul.
Pope Benedict resumed the weekly general audiences in late April. He said that for his general audiences in coming weeks he would continue the late pope's series of talks on the psalms, using texts prepared by his predecessor.
In early May, Pope Benedict began meeting with bishops making their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican. The May visits by bishops from Sri Lanka, Rwanda and Burundi had been scheduled for earlier this year.

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