The president of Portugal has criticized the Vatican’s restriction of official delegations for the funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

In comments to journalists this week, Marcelo Nuno Duarte Rebelo de Sousa indicated that he did not agree with the Vatican’s announcement that only Italy and Germany would have official delegations at the Jan. 5 funeral, though other heads of state may attend in a personal capacity.

Rádio Renascença reported that Rebelo de Sousa told Portuguese journalists that “several heads of state will be there. The president of the Republic does not go to these things in a personal capacity, he goes representing the Portuguese State.”

“It is not the citizen who goes there, if it were the citizen I would not go there, obviously, what matters is to represent the Portuguese State, for a very simple reason: Portugal will organize the World Youth Day, and that is a very relevant fact in the relations with the Catholic Church and the Holy See,” Rebelo de Sousa said.

Portugal's President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa takes a selfie with volunteers from WYD Lisbon 2023. Photo credit: WYD Lisbon 2023
Portugal's President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa takes a selfie with volunteers from WYD Lisbon 2023. Photo credit: WYD Lisbon 2023

The Portuguese president joins other heads of state or government, as well as a handful of European royals, who have already confirmed their presence at the funeral Mass.

Other governments, including the United States and Ireland, have said that the only representative at the funeral will be the country’s ambassador to the Holy See.

For the U.S., this will be Ambassador Joe Donnelly, the White House said on Tuesday.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier are confirmed to be attending the funeral as part of official delegations from their countries.

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Here are some of the government representatives expected to attend the pope emeritus’ funeral on Thursday in a personal capacity:


  • Queen Sofia

  • Minister of the Presidency Félix Bolaños


  • King Philip and Queen Mathilde


  • President Andrzej Duda

  • Premier Mateusz Morawiecki

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  • President Katalin Novak

  • Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjen

Great Britain

  • Secretary of State for Education Gillian Keegan

Czech Republic

  • Prime Minister Petr Fiala


  • Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin


  • President Marcelo Nuno Duarte Rebelo de Sousa


  • President Nataša Pirc Musar


  • Minister of the Exterior Goran Grlić Radman

  • Minister of Culture Nina Obuljen Koržinek


  • President Gitanas Nauseda


  • President Faure Essozinma Gnassingbe

San Marino

  • Captain Regent Maria Luisa Berti

  • Captain Regent Manuel Ciavatta


  • Prime Minister Eduard Heger


  • Prime Minister Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda


  • Minister of the Exterior Alvaro Leyva Duràn


  • Minister of the Exterior loannis Kasoulides

Sovereign Military Order of Malta

  • Frà John T. Dunlap