Former pope Benedict ready for final ‘pilgrimage’


Rome: Pope emeritus Benedict XVI hinted on Wednesday that is is nearing death and ready for his final “pilgrimage” at the age of 90.

“In the slow decline of my physical strength, internally, I am on a pilgrimage to the House (of the Lord)”, Joseph Ratzinger wrote in a letter published in the Corriere della Sera daily, which had told him many readers were concerned about his health.

The former pope, who will turn 91 in April, said he was moved that “so many readers want to know how this last period of his life is going”.

“It is a great grace for me to be surrounded, in this last point of a sometimes tiring path, with affection and kindness that I would not have imagined,” Benedict added.

Since his resignation five years ago, the German-born pope has been living in a small monastery in the Vatican, with four nuns and his personal secretary Georg Gaenswein.

Two years ago, Gaenswein reported that Benedict was “going out like a candle, slowly and serenely”.

Benedict celebrates mass every day, prays a lot, receives visitors in small numbers and responds to many letters.

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