Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI arrives for his departure at Munich Airport in Freising, Germany, Monday June 22, 2020. Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI is returning to the Vatican after a four-day visit to Germany to visit his ailing elder brother. (Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP)

Retired pope back at Vatican after German visit to brother

June 22, 2020 - 8:03 am

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI returned to the Vatican on Monday after a four-day visit to his ailing elder brother in their native Germany.

Benedict, a Bavarian native, flew from Munich to Rome aboard an Italian air force plane. He was seen off by Bavaria's governor, Markus Soeder, who said it was a moment “of happiness and melancholy,” news agency dpa reported.

Benedict returned to his home in the Vatican gardens in the early afternoon, said Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni. It was his first trip outside Italy in over seven years.

The 93-year-old retired pontiff arrived in Germany on Thursday to be with his 96-year-old brother, the Rev. Georg Ratzinger. On Saturday, he greeted old neighbors and prayed at his parents' grave. He stayed at a seminary during his trip, visiting his brother twice a day.

Benedict has lived at a monastery on the Vatican grounds since shortly after his 2013 retirement, a decision that stunned the world. Elected to the papacy in 2005 to succeed St. John Paul II, the former Joseph Ratzinger was the first pontiff in 600 years to resign the post.

He was succeeded by current Pope Francis.

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