Pope Francis congratulates retired former Pope Benedict

Pope Francis has thanked and congratulated retired former Pope Benedict XVI for his 70 years service as an ordained priest.

After praying the Angelus with pilgrims in St Peter’s Square on Tuesday – the anniversary of Benedict’s priestly ordination – Francis led pilgrims in applauding his predecessor. Benedict’s 70th is “an anniversary that touches all of our hearts,” Francis said.

“Our affection, our gratitude and our closeness go to you, Benedict, dear father and brother.”

He went on to thank Benedict for his continual prayer for the Church in his retirement, calling the retired former pope “the contemplative of the Vatican.”

“Thank you for your credible witness. Thank you for your gaze, constantly directed toward the horizon of God. Thank you.”

The 94-year old retired pope celebrated Mass privately to mark his 70th anniversary. Six members of the choir in Regensburg, Germany of which his late brother Georg was the choirmaster were present.

The retired former pope was born in Bavaria, Germany and was ordained in Bavaria in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising alongside his brother, Georg.

Before his election as pope in 2005, he served for 24 years as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Since retiring, Benedict has chosen to live in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery at the Vatican.


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