By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis telephoned retired Pope Benedict XVI, the former Joseph Ratzinger, to wish him a happy “name day” on the feast of St. Joseph.
Pope Benedict has been following the many events taking place in Rome, especially the Mass, March 19, which formally marked the start of his successor’s ministry as bishop of Rome and as pope, the Vatican said.
The retired pope, who has been living at the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo, outside Rome, since Feb. 28, “has followed with strong interest the events these past days, especially this morning’s celebration” inaugurating Pope Francis’ ministry, the Vatican said in a written statement March 19.
Pope Benedict assured “his successor of his continued closeness in prayer,” the statement said.
Pope Francis called the retired pope in the late afternoon March 19 to send him best wishes on the feast of St. Joseph “and show him once more his and the church’s gratitude for his service,” the Vatican said.
The telephone conversation was “lengthy and cordial,” the Vatican said.
Pope Francis was scheduled to meet with his predecessor at Castel Gandolfo March 23.
During the March 19 Mass marking his installation, Pope Francis told the some 150,000 participants that it was a “coincidence rich in significance” that the start of his ministry would fall on the same day as the feast of St. Joseph, husband of Mary and patron of the universal church, and “also the name day of my venerable predecessor.”
“We are close to him with our prayers, full of affection and gratitude,” he told the crowds as they applauded with enthusiasm.
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