ROME (AP) — Retired Pope Benedict XVI has said he hopes to soon join a beloved professor friend in “the afterlife.” Benedict penned an Oct. 2 letter to a German priest, thanking him for letting him know of the passing of the Rev. Gerhard Winkler, a Cistercian priest and academic colleague. In the letter, the former pope said he considered Winkler his closest friend. He wrote: “Now he has reached the afterlife, where many friends certainly await him. I hope I can join them soon.” The comment was a sign that the 94-year-old pontiff is not only preparing for his death but welcoming it.
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