Lombardi: Castel Gandolfo meeting a moment of profound communion
(Vatican Radio) Speaking exclusively to Vatican Radio, the Director of the Holy
See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., reveals the details of this morning’s
historic encounter between Pope Francis and Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus, an encounter
he has described as a moment of profound and elevated communion:
landed in Castel Gandolfo heliport, at about 12:15 and the car with the retired Pope
approached the helicopter landing site. The Holy Father alighted: he was accompanied
by the Substitute [Secretary of State] Msgr. Becciu, by Msgr. Sapienza and Msgr. Alfred
Xuereb. As the Pope alighted, the Pope Emeritus approached him and there was a moving
embrace between the two.
Then, there followed brief greetings with those other
present- the bishop of Albano and the Director of the Pontifical Villas, Mr. Petrillo
– they all got in the car: Pope Francis on the right, then place reserved to the Pope,
and the Pope emeritus on the left. Msgr. Georg Gänswein, who is Prefect of the Papal
Household, travelled in the same car. And so, the car brought the two protagonists
of this historic meeting to the elevators and they went up to the apartments and immediately
went to the chapel for a moment of prayer.
In the chapel, the Pope emeritus
offered the place of honor to Pope Francis, but he said: "We are brothers," and wanted
them to kneel together in the same pew. After a short moment of prayer, they then
went to the private library where, at about 12:30, the private meeting began. This
is the Library where the Pope normally receives important guests in Castel Gandolfo.
Pope Francis brought a beautiful icon as a gift for the Pope emeritus. It was an
icon of Our Lady of Humility, as a gift for Benedict XVI's great humility. Their discussions
ended at 13.15, lasting about 45 minutes. It should be noted, with regard to the clothing,
which actually - as we mentioned earlier - the Pope emeritus wears a simple cassock
white, without a sash and without a mantella: these are the two details which distinguish
his clothing from that of Pope Francis who wears a mantella and sash.
two Secretaries, and Msgr. Georg and Msgr. Xuereb, are expected to eat lunch with
them. Thus the totally private and confidential meeting ended with the discussions
in the Library. The Pope Emeritus will also accompany Pope Francis to the heliport,
when the time comes for his return. Let us remember that this is not their first meeting:
it is their first face-to-face meeting, but Pope Francis had many times already addressed
his thoughts to the Pope emeritus, during his first appearance on the central Loggia,
and then two personal calls: the night of his election and St. Joseph’s Day.
the dialogue had already started, even though the the personal, physical meeting had
not yet taken place. Let us also remember that the retired Pope had already expressed
his unconditional reverence and obedience to his successor at his farewell meeting
with the Cardinals, February 28, and certainly in this [morning’s] meeting - which
was a moment of profound and elevated communion –will have had the opportunity to
renew this act of reverence and obedience to his successor, and certainly Pope Francis
renewed his gratitude and that of the whole Church for Pope Benedict’s ministry during
Fr. Lombardi excluded the possibility of Pope Francis and
Benedict XVI appearing at the balconey together to greet the public.