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Benedict returns to Vatican, now home of two popes

May 2, 2013 at 2:10 PM   |   Comments

VATICAN CITY, May 2 (UPI) -- The Vatican is now home to two popes, as Pope Francis welcomed his predecessor, retired Pope Benedict XVI, to the former pope's new residence, a spokesman said.

Pope Benedict, 86, and five aides arrived Thursday at a convent remodeled to accommodate him. Pope Francis and Pope Benedict entered the convent's chapel together "for a brief moment of prayer," said Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi.

Benedict has been living at the summer papal residence outside Rome since his resignation took effect Feb. 28, Vatican Radio reported, adding his new home is a 10-minute walk from Pope Francis' residence.

When asked about questions of Benedict's noticeable frailty, Lombardi said, "He's an elderly man, weakened by age, but is not suffering from any illness."

Benedict was seen walking with a cane in the last year of his pontificate, and recently had a battery replaced in a heart pacemaker inserted in 2005, the Catholic News Service reported.

Some observers have said that Benedict's presence may cause problems for Francis, but Vatican officials have insisted the pope emeritus will devote his life to study and prayer and won't be involved with papal duties.

It is "absolutely premature to put forward any hypothesis" about overhauling the Vatican hierarchy, Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, substitute secretary for general affairs in the Vatican Secretariat of State, told the Vatican's semiofficial newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.

His remarks followed widespread speculation about imminent reforms 2 1/2 weeks after Francis named a group of eight cardinals from around the world to advise him in governing the church and reforming the Holy See's dysfunctional bureaucracy, which has been rocked by scandals.

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