Pope emeritus Benedict moves into retirement quarters

VATICAN CITY — Benedict XVI, the first pope to resign in 600 years, returned Thursday to Rome, where Pope Francis was waiting for him at the retirement home where the pope emeritus has promised to spend the rest of his days in semi-seclusion.

The Argentine pope greeted his predecessor with “great fraternal cordiality” and both prayed together in a small chapel in Benedict’s new home in the Vatican gardens, the Vatican said.

German-born Joseph Ratzinger, 86, resigned in February as pope and promised not to interfere in his successor’s administration.

He had stayed since his retirement at Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence outside Rome. From now on, he would live in a walled convent with four nuns and his private secretary, Georg Gaenswein.

The convent was renovated and altered to accommodate them. Benedict has a study and a small library. A lift ensures he does not need to climb stairs to his bedroom on the first story. His home also has a guest bedroom that can be used when his brother Georg Ratzinger visits.

Never before have two popes lived inside the Vatican at the same time.

“Benedict is happy to be back because living at the Vatican means normalcy to him,” Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said, adding that the pope emeritus would be able to go for walks or receive visitors like any other Vatican resident.