September 16, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI emerged briefly from prayerful retreat to celebrate Mass with a group of his former doctoral students.

His homily in German was aired in part by Vatican Radio and published as partial excerpts by the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, marking the first time the retired pope’s remarks to a private gathering were made public.

Although the retired pope did not join the former students for the annual talks, as he had for nearly four decades, he met with them Sept. 1 to celebrate Mass.

The 86-year-old retired pope delivered his homily off-the-cuff without notes and looked and sounded well, according to one participant.