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Pope Francis, Benedict XVI embrace at Castel Gandolfo

Catholic World News - March 25, 2013

Pope Francis traveled to Castel Gandolfo on Saturday, March 23, for an unprecedented friendly meeting between an acting Pontiff and his living predecessor.

Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI met the Pontiff at the heliport of the papal summer residence, and the two embraced warmly. They then proceeded to the chapel of the apostolic palace, where Benedict XVI indicated that the current Pope should take the first pew. Pope Francis declined, saying "we are brothers," and insisted that Benedict XVI kneed beside him as the two prayed.

The past and present Pope spoke privately for about 45 minutes in the library at Castel Gandolfo before sharing lunch with a few aides. The Vatican did not disclose details about their conversations.

Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, characterized the meeting as "a moment of profound communion" between the two Church leaders. He observed, however, that while this was their first face-to-face encounter since the papal election, the two had spoken on the telephone several times before their Saturday meeting.

Pope-emeritus Benedict, who appeared frail in video footage of the encounter, wore a plain white cassock, without the mantle and sash worn by the Pope.

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  • Posted by: jeremiahjj - Mar. 25, 2013 7:37 PM ET USA

    I wish it weren't so, but I fear the former Holy Father will not be with us much longer. I believe he knew this when he chose to retire and let a younger, stronger person take over the papacy. I grieve as I consider this, for there is much Benedict XVI could share during his twilight years.

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