Pope pays rare tribute to French cardinal, attends full Mass

FILE - In this March 13, 2013 file photo, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, center, announces the newly elected pope from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the longtime Vatican diplomat and expert in interfaith relations who announced the election of Pope Francis to the world in 2013 with the famous "habemus papam," has died. The Vatican said Tauran died Thursday, July 5, 2018, at age 75. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
FILE - In this picture taken on Nov. 23, 2007., Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran of France walks at the Vatican. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the longtime Vatican diplomat and expert in interfaith relations who announced the election of Pope Francis to the world in 2013 with the famous "habemus papam," has died. The Vatican said Tauran died Thursday, July 5, 2018, at age 75. (AP Photo/Plinio Lepri)
A Cardinal biretta hat is seen in St. Peter's Basilica during the funeral service of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, attended by Pope Francis, at the Vatican, Thursday, July 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis blesses the coffin of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran during the funeral service in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Thursday, July 12, 2018. The Vatican said Tauran died Thursday, July 5, 2018, at age 75. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis sits during the funeral service of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, inside St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Thursday, July 12, 2018. The Vatican said Tauran died Thursday, July 5, 2018, at age 75. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis blesses the coffin of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran during the funeral service inside St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Thursday, July 12, 2018. The Vatican said Tauran died Thursday, July 5, 2018, at age 75. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has paid an unusually personal and public tribute to French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran by attending the funeral of the former Vatican foreign minister and interfaith expert.

Usually, popes only preside over the final rites at funerals for cardinals. But in a sign of Francis' esteem for his close confidante, Francis attended the entire Mass on Thursday in St. Peter's Basilica, which was celebrated by the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.

Even before Sodano and other cardinals processed in, Francis was seated on a chair to the side of the altar near Tauran's casket.

Tauran died last week in the United States, where he was being treated for the Parkinson's disease that he suffered for years.

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