Ex-Pope Benedict Says He's Nearing the End of His Life

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"I can only say that at the end of a slow decline in physical strength, inwardly I am on pilgrimage home, " Benedict XVI said in the letter, published February 7 in Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

"It is a great grace for me to be surrounded, in this last point of a sometimes tiring path, with affection and kindness that I would not have imagined", Benedict added.

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Pope emeritus Benedict has sent a short letter to the editor of the Italian news daily Il Corriere della Sera.

The former pontiff said, "I was moved by the fact that so many readers of your paper want to know how I am spending this last period of my life". I can only say in this regard that, with the slow decline of my physical strength, interiorly I am on a pilgrimage Home.

Since the election of Pope Francis, he retreated from public view and has lived in a converted monastery in the grounds of the Vatican gardens.

Concluding his letter, Benedict said he considers the concern of the readers for his well-being as an "accompaniment" for the journey. Since stepping down, Benedict has only appeared publicly at major Church events. A retiring diplomat accredited to the Holy See told the Register recently he was not allowed to say farewell due to the Pope emeritus' increasing frailty.

Those close to him say he is still sharp mentally but has mobility problems and needs a walker to get around.

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