2 popes meet for lunch for 1st time in 600 years

Associated Press
In this photo provided by the Vatican paper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis meets Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in Castel Gandolfo Saturday, March 23, 2013. Pope Francis has traveled to Castel Gandolfo to have lunch with his predecessor Benedict XVI in a historic and potentially problematic melding of the papacies that has never before confronted the Catholic Church. The Vatican said the two popes embraced on the helipad. In the chapel where they prayed together, Benedict offered Francis the traditional kneeler used by the pope. Francis refused to take it alone, saying "We're brothers," and the two prayed together on the same one. (AP Photo/Osservatore Romano, HO)
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In this photo provided by the Vatican paper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis meets Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in Castel Gandolfo Saturday, March 23, 2013. Pope Francis has traveled to Castel Gandolfo to have lunch with his predecessor Benedict XVI in a historic and potentially problematic melding of the papacies that has never before confronted the Catholic Church. The Vatican said the two popes embraced on the helipad. In the chapel where they prayed together, Benedict offered Francis the traditional kneeler used by the pope. Francis refused to take it alone, saying "We're brothers," and the two prayed together on the same one. (AP Photo/Osservatore Romano, HO)

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (AP) — Crowds are beginning to gather in the central square of Castel Gandolfo to catch a glimpse of history: Two popes meeting for lunch and presumably discussing the future of the Catholic Church.

Pope Francis was to fly by helicopter Saturday to the papal residence in the Alban Hills south of Rome where Pope emeritus Benedict XVI has been living since resigning Feb. 28, the first pope to step down in 600 years.

Benedict's dramatic departure that day — flying by helicopter with his weeping secretary by his side and circling St. Peter's Square in a final goodbye — is one of the most evocative images of this remarkable papal transition.

The Vatican is downplaying the luncheon in keeping with Benedict's desire to remain "hidden from the world."

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