Francis Welcomes Benedict XVI Back to Vatican

Pope Emeritus Takes Up Residence in Monastery

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Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI arrived back to the Vatican this afternoon, where he was welcomed at the door of the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery by his Successor.

Francis left the «formalities of a welcoming ceremony to Vatican authorities,» Vatican Radio reported, and awaited the retired Pontiff at the door.

The first to greet Benedict, then, were cardinals and bishops, including Cardinals Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Governatorate of Vatican City State, Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of state, and Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals.

The Pope and Pope Emeritus went together to the chapel in Mater Ecclesiae.

Benedict XVI left the Vatican on Feb. 28 and has been at Castel Gandolfo since then.

«He chose to leave the Vatican immediately after his resignation to physically remove himself from the process of electing his successor,» Vatican Radio reported.

Benedict XVI will live in Mater Ecclesiase with his personal secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, and the four consecrated women who do the housekeeping and prepare his meals. 

The 86-year-old retired Pontiff also has there his library and a piano. A guest room is available for when his brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, comes to visit. 

Francis and Benedict have spoken by telephone a few times, reportedly at length. Francis also visited his Predecessor at Castel Gandolfo in March.

Vatican Radio noted, however, that this is «the first time in history that a Pope and a Pope Emeritus will be next-door neighbors!»

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