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Retired Pope Benedict XVI has said he hopes to join a dear professor friend in the “afterlife” soon, in a sign that the 94-year-old pontiff is not only accepting his eventual death but welcoming it .

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Benedict wrote a letter to a German priest on 2 October, thanking him for informing him of the passing of the Rev. Gerhard Winkler, a Cistercian priest and academic colleague of former Joseph Ratzinger.

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According to the letter published in German media, Benedict wrote, “He was the closest to me of all my colleagues and friends.” “Now he has reached the afterlife, where many friends are definitely waiting for him. I hope I can join him soon.”

Benedict became the first pope to resign in 600 years when he abdicated in 2013, saying he lacked the strength of body and mind to guide the Catholic Church.

Throughout Pope Francis’ entire papacy, Benedict has lived in a converted monastery in the Vatican gardens, occasionally greeting and writing to visitors, but abiding by his vow to live “hidden from the world” overall.

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