Pope Francis is expected to visit his predecessor Benedict XVI at the papal retreat in Castel Gandolfo today, as the pontiff begins his first full day as leader of the Catholic church.
The 76-year-old, who has become the first Jesuit pope and the first pope to be named Francis, will visit Benedict at the retreat south of Rome, according to prominent US cardinal Timothy Dolan.
Speaking at the North American College, the US seminary in Rome, Cardinal Dolan said Pope Francis told his fellow cardinals on Wednesday that “tomorrow morning, I’m going to visit Benedict”.
The visit is significant because Benedict’s resignation has raised concerns about potential power conflicts emerging from the peculiar situation of having a reigning pope and a retired one alive at the same time.
Francis has already spoken by phone with Benedict, who has been living at the papal retreat in Castel Gandolfo since the end of his papacy.
Known until Wednesday as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Argentine Pope Francis became a cardinal in 2001.
He has spent nearly his entire career in Argentina, and has become the first ever pope from Latin America.
He is respected in the church as a humble man who has denied himself the luxuries that previous Buenos Aires cardinals enjoyed.
Pope Francis is said to have finished second when Benedict was elected in 2005.
During this week’s papal conclave, he was chosen on just the fifth ballot to replace the first pontiff to resign in 600 years.
Francis’ election has pleased Latin Americans, who number 40% of the world’s Catholics but have long been underrepresented in the church leadership.
Francis is sure to bring the church closer to the poverty-wracked region, while also introducing the world to a very different type of pope, whose first words to the faithful were a simple, “Brothers and sisters, good evening”.
He asked for prayers for himself, and for Benedict, whose stunning resignation paved the way for his election.
“I want you to bless me,” Francis said in his first appearance from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica, asking the faithful to bow their heads in silent prayer.
He also delivered a blessing to “all men and women of good will”, before calling for “brotherhood” in the church.
A roar emanated from the crowds outside the Vatican in St Peter’s Square on Wednesday as the white smoke indicated the new pontiff had obtained the required two-thirds majority in the voting by 115 cardinals.
Article source: http://news.sky.com/story/1064351