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Frail retired pope Benedict, 94, hopes to join his beloved professor friend ‘in the afterlife’

Frail retired pope Benedict, 94, says he soon hopes to join his beloved professor friend ‘in the afterlife’ in letter of condolence

  • Retired Pope Benedict XVI, 94, penned a letter to a German priest on October 2
  • He thanked him for letting him know of the passing of the Rev. Gerhard Winkler
  • Winkler was a priest and academic colleague of former Joseph Ratzinger
  • Benedict wrote: ‘Now he has reached the afterlife, where many friends certainly await him. I hope I can join them soon’


Retired Pope Benedict XVI has said he hopes to soon join a beloved professor friend in ‘the afterlife’.  

Benedict, 94, penned a letter to a German priest on October 2, thanking him for letting him know of the passing of the Rev. Gerhard Winkler, a Cistercian priest and academic colleague of the former Joseph Ratzinger.

‘Of all my colleagues and friends he was the closest to me,’ Benedict wrote, according to the letter reproduced in German media. 

‘Now he has reached the afterlife, where many friends certainly await him. I hope I can join them soon.’

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI seen above in 2014. Benedict, 94, penned a letter to a German priest on October 2, thanking him for letting him know of the passing of the Rev. Gerhard Winkler, a Cistercian priest and academic colleague of the former Joseph Ratzinger

Pope Francis hold hands with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as he pays him a visit at the Vatican in November 2020

Pope Francis hold hands with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as he pays him a visit at the Vatican in November 2020

Benedict became the first pope in 600 years to resign when he renounced the papacy in 2013, saying he didn’t have the strength of body and mind to guide the Catholic Church.

Throughout the papacy of Pope Francis, Benedict has lived in a converted monastery in the Vatican gardens, occasionally greeting visitors and writing, but by and large keeping to his vow to live ‘hidden to the world.’  

In recent years Benedict has been suffering from erysipelas of the face, a virus that causes a facial rash, and episodes of severe pain, becoming ‘extremely frail’, reports indicate. 

Catholic traditionalist Benedict, who was replaced by the reformist Pope Francis, has stayed out of the public eye since he resigned, citing health reasons. 

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