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Benedict takes up Francis' invite for lunch

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Retired Pope Benedict XVI has shared a holiday meal with his successor, Francis, at the Vatican.

Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano said Saturday that Benedict took up a luncheon invitation from Pope Francis, and the two men dined together at Francis' residence, at the Santa Marta hotel on Vatican City's grounds. The newspaper gave no details of the meal, except to say the two popes' personal secretaries and two other Vatican officials joined them at the lunch on Friday.

Francis had extended the invitation for a holiday meal when he paid a call on his predecessor Dec. 23 at a monastery on the Vatican's grounds to offer Christmas greetings, Vatican Radio said. Benedict retired on Feb. 28 to a generally secluded life of prayer in the monastery.

Francis, who says he likes company, has made a point of keeping in touch. In March, 10 days after his election as pontiff, Francis headed to the Vatican's vacation retreat in Castel Gandolfo, a hill town outside of Rome, where Benedict was staying until he could move into the monastery, and had lunch with his predecessor there.

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