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BY Edward Pentin
Pope Francis visited Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI this afternoon to ask the former Pontiff to “spiritually accompany him in prayer” during his visit to Brazil for World Youth Day next week.
The Vatican said the Holy Father called in on the Pope Emeritus shortly after 4pm and brought with him a booklet covering the program of the trip so that Benedict can participate spiritually and follow the transmission of the events.
Benedict XVI, who was originaly scheduled to go to Rio until he announced his retirement in February, "assured him of his prayers, recalling the intense and wonderful experiences of his past world meetings with young people in Cologne, Sydney and Madrid.” The Vatican said the meeting started “with a moment of prayer” in the chapel, followed by a “cordial conversation” that lasted half an hour.
Pope Francis leaves for Rio on July 22th and returns on 28th. Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi has said the visit will be "a bit of an adventure", particularly as Francis is known to be "full of surprises".
It's also been announced that the Pope will not be giving the customary news conference on the papal plane, but does intend to personally greet each of the 71 journalists and media personnel on board.