In the letter, Pope Benedict XVI, who, in 2013, became the first Pope to resign, spoke of his failing strength and physical failings. “I can only say that at the end of a slow decline in physical strength, inwardly I am on pilgrimage toward Home,” the former Pontiff said in his letter which was published on 7 February in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.
Pope Benedict XVI went on to say: “It’s a great grace for me to be surrounded in this last piece of the road, which is at times a bit tiring, by a love and goodness that I could never have imagined.”
The former Pope’s letter was addressed to Italian journalist Massimo Franco of Corriere della Sera who had previously given the retired Pontiff letters from readers who were concerned about his health and wellbeing.
Pope Benedict XVI’s letter ran on the front page of Corriere della Sera the morning of 7 February and, seeing how concerned the paper’s readers were for him, Benedict said he was moved by the number of readers who “want to know how I’ve spent this late period of my life”.
Since his surprise resignation in 2013, Pope Benedict has been living in a monastery within the Vatican where he is accompanied by four nuns and his personal assistant, Georg Gaenswein.
The former Pope will remain in the Vatican until his journey home is complete. In April he will turn 91.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s Letter
“I was moved by the many readers of your newspaper who desire to know how I am spending the last period of my life. I can only say that in the slow waning of my physical forces, inwardly I am on a pilgrimage towards Home. It is a great grace for me to be surrounded, on this last part of the road, sometimes a bit tiring, by such love and goodness that I never could have imagined. In this sense, I consider the question of your readers as an accompaniment. I can only thank them and assure you all of my prayers.”