I'm preparing for death - Pope Benedict XVI

Wednesday, 07 Feb, 2018

The letter, dated February 5, was hand-delivered to Massimo Franco, a columnist for Corriere della Sera, the most prestigious newspaper in Italy, which takes the role of "newspaper of record" that the New York Times does in the United States.

The former pope, who will turn 91 in April, said he was moved that so numerous paper's readers wanted to know how this last period of his life was going.

The Pope emeritus said: "In the slow decline of my physical strength, internally, I am on a pilgrimage to the House of the Lord".

The Pope emeritus writes a short letter to an Italian newspaper, thanking readers for their expressions of concern as the fifth anniversary of the announcement of his resignation approaches.

Pope Benedict XVI finishes his last general audience in St Peter's Square at the Vatican. The former Roman Pontiff admits that "this last stretch of the road" is "at times hard", but says, "It is a great grace for me to be surrounded by a love and goodness that I could not have imagined".

Benedict XVI says he is in the final stages of his life, describing himself as on a "pilgrimage Home" surrounded by a "love and goodness" he had never imagined.

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

"Because of this", he wrote, "I can not but be thankful, on my part assuring you all of my prayers".

The newspaperman said the pope emeritus "accepts his fragility" and said Benedict's words are "a thanksgiving, and at the same time, nearly a farewell".

Those around him said the former Pope is still mentally aware, but that he needs assistance in getting around, Reuters reported.