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Pope Benedict 5 years on: weaker, but ‘on a pilgrimage home’

February 7, 2018

FILE - In this Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015. filer, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI attends a Mass prior to the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter's Basilica, formally starting the Jubilee of Mercy, at the Vatican. Retired Pope Benedict XVI has commemorated the fifth anniversary of his historic decision to retire by assuring that while his physical strength is waning, he is "on a pilgrimage home." (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Retired Pope Benedict XVI has commemorated the fifth anniversary of his historic decision to retire by assuring that while his physical strength is waning, he is “on a pilgrimage home.”

Benedict wrote a brief letter to Italian daily Corriere della Sera after readers inquired how he was doing. The paper published the note Wednesday, just a few days before the anniversary of Benedict’s stunning resignation announcement on Feb. 11, 2013.

The 90-year-old pope wrote that he was moved by such concern: “I can only say that in the slow decline of my physical strength, internally I am on a pilgrimage home.”

He thanked the readers for their concern, saying it was a “grace” to be surrounded by such love “on this final stretch of the road, that’s sometimes difficult.”

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