In rare letter, Benedict XVI says he's 'on pilgrimage home'

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On Wednesday, an Italian newspaper published a letter from retired Pope Benedict which highlights the former Pope's reflection that he is in the last phase of life and now on a 'pilgrimage towards home'.

In a rare new letter penned by Benedict XVI, the retired pontiff said he is in the last phase of his life, and while his physical strength might be waning, he is surrounded by a "love and goodness" that he never imagined.

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The 90-year-old wrote a letter to Corriere della Sera, one of Italy's leading dailies, in response to queries from readers as to his health and state of mind.

This Sunday marks the fifth anniversary of Benedict XVI's shock announcement that he meant to resign the papacy.

"I was moved that so many readers of your newspaper want to know how I am spending this last period of my life", he said.

In a nine-line letter to Corriere della Serra, Benedict XVI thanks the paper's readers for their concern, and assures them he is surrounded "by a love and a goodness that I could not have imagined".

Since then, he has resided as pope emeritus in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery located inside Vatican City and close to where Pope Francis lives.

He has made only a handful of public appearances, mostly at major Church events but has received friends.

However, these visits have reduced in recent months.

Those who have been to visit him recently say he is still mentally sharp but has difficulty moving and needs a walker to get around.

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