Pope, former pope meet in first such encounter in 600 years

By REUTERS
March 23, 2013 15:58

 
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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy - A reigning pope and ex-pope faced each other for the first time in at least 600 years on Saturday when Pope Francis traveled south of Rome to meet his predecessor, "pope emeritus Benedict XVI".

Francis, who was elected on March 13, arrived by helicopter at the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo for a meeting and lunch with Benedict, who has been living here since he abdicated on Feb. 28.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Benedict and Francis embraced when the helicopter which brought Francis from Rome landed at the residence.

He added that Benedict's health was normal for a man of his age.

The pontiff and Benedict later prayed together in a chapel and held 45 minutes of private talks before starting a lunch, where they were joined by their two personal secretaries. Lombardi said the atmosphere was "family-like".

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