Benedict takes up lunch invite

Last updated 08:45 29/12/2013
BY THE POWER OF GOD: Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (left), who became the first pontiff to step down in 600 years, greets his successor Pope Francis at the Vatican.

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Retired Pope Benedict XVI has shared a holiday meal with his successor, Francis, at the Vatican.

Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano said on Saturday (local time) that Benedict took up a luncheon invitation from Pope Francis, and the two men dined together at Francis' residence, at the Santa Marta hotel on Vatican City's grounds. The newspaper gave no details of the meal, except to say the two popes' personal secretaries and two other Vatican officials joined them at the lunch on Friday.

Francis had extended the invitation for a holiday meal when he paid a call on his predecessor December 23 at a monastery on the Vatican's grounds to offer Christmas greetings, Vatican Radio said. Benedict retired on February 28 to a generally secluded life of prayer in the monastery.

Francis, who says he likes company, has made a point of keeping in touch.

In March, 10 days after his election as pontiff, Francis headed to the Vatican's vacation retreat in Castel Gandolfo, a hill town outside of Rome, where Benedict was staying until he could move into the monastery, and had lunch with his predecessor there.

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- AP

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