Current and Former Popes Do Lunch, Bro DownS

In what is going on public record as the first modern meeting of present and former popes, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI grabbed lunch with newly elected Pope Francis at Castel Gandolfo.

Pope Francis was flown via helicopter to the lakeside castle in Rome where Pope Emeritus Benedict has been living since falling ill last month. Present and former popes apparently got along quite well: Pope Francis declared the two "brothers."

According to Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi, after arriving at the chapel at the palazzo, Francis refused to pray alone at the papal kneeler at the front of the chapel, opting instead to pray side-by-side with Benedict in the same pew. Francis also gifted the exiting pope with a Madonna of humility icon, telling him, "I thought of you. You gave us so many signs of humility and gentleness in your pontificate."

If you're on pins and needles wondering about the fashions, I can assure you: they were fascinating. Pope Francis' mantella and sash distinguished himself from Pope Benedict's simple white cassock of the papacy—proving Francis to be a style maverick and a pope that I can get behind.

The Vatican spokesman reported that following prayer, the two met privately in the library for 45 minutes, before being joined for lunch by Secretaries Monsignors Georg Gaenswein and Alfred
Xuereb. While the details of the lunch remain private, there's already been some speculation about what the two spoke about. Did they focus on the rise of secularism? Or how to draw more young people to the Church? Perhaps they discussed what's next for Pope Benedict. Benedict could have debriefed Francis on the investigation into the leaked papal documents last year. Or maybe they went over Justin Timberlake's comeback and how "Mirrors" is clearly so beyond better than "Suit & Tie."

No word on what was on the menu, or whether or not the two discussed the real reason for Pope Benedict's resignation. (The Knights Templar, obvi.)

[NCR, AP]