The Pope Emeritus has written to an Italian newspaper to say he is “on a pilgrimage Home” in this “final period of my life”.
In a nine-line letter to Corriere della Serra, Benedict XVI thanks the paper’s readers for their concern, and assures them he is surrounded “by a love and a goodness that I could not have imagined”.
“I was moved that so many readers of your newspaper want to know how I am spending this last period of my life,” he said.
“I can only say in this regard that, in the slow decline of physical strengths, inwardly I am on a pilgrimage Home,” he added, capitalising the Italian word ‘Casa’.
“It is a great grace for me to be surrounded, in this rather tiring last piece of the road, by a love and a goodness that I could not have imagined.”
He said he considered the reader’s concerns as “company” on his journey, and assured them of his prayers.
The paper says it had contacted Benedict XVI through a “reserved channel” to ask him how he was doing.
The letter, marked “urgent by hand”, arrived at their Rome headquarters on Tuesday morning from “Monastero Mater Ecclesiae, V-120, Città del Vatican”, the former Pope’s residence.
This Sunday marks the fifth anniversary of Benedict XVI’s shock announcement that he intended to resign the papacy. His resignation took effect on 28 February that year.