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Retired pope returning to Vatican after visiting ill brother

BERLIN (AP) — Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI left Germany on Monday to return to the Vatican after a four-day visit to his ailing elder brother. Benedict, a Bavarian native, boarded an Italian air force plane bound for Rome at Munich airport. He was seen off by Bavaria's governor, Markus Soeder, who said it was a moment “of happiness and melancholy,” news agency dpa reported.

The 93-year-old retired pontiff arrived in Germany on Thursday to be with his 96-year-old brother, the Rev. Georg Ratzinger. On Saturday, he greeted old neighbors and prayed at his parents' grave. He stayed at a seminary during his trip, visiting his brother twice a day.

Benedict has lived at a monastery on the Vatican grounds since shortly after his 2013 retirement, a decision that stunned the world. Elected to the papacy in 2005 to succeed St. John Paul II, the former Joseph Ratzinger was the first pontiff in 600 years to resign the post.

He was succeeded by current Pope Francis.

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