Pope Francis Thanks Pope Benedict for his ‘Credible Witness’

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ROME — Pope Francis offered a shout-out Tuesday to his predecessor, Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.

Seventy years ago today, Pope Benedict was ordained a priest, “an anniversary that touches the hearts of all of us,” Pope Francis said following his Angelus prayer in Saint Peter’s Square, provoking sustained applause.

“To you, Benedict, dear father and brother, goes our affection, our gratitude and our closeness,” Francis continued.

“He lives in the monastery, a place intended to host contemplative communities here in the Vatican, to pray for the Church,” he said. “Currently, he is the contemplative of the Vatican, who spends his life praying for the Church and for the Diocese of Rome, of which he is bishop emeritus.”

“Thank you, Benedict, dear father and brother. Thank you for your credible witness,” Francis concluded. “Thank you for your gaze continually turned towards God’s horizon: thank you!”

In February 2013, Pope Benedict became the first pope in nearly six centuries to resign, paving the way for Francis’ election the following month.

Francis is the first pope to come from the New World as well as the first of the Jesuit order.

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