Benedict (pictured) was the first Pope in 600 years to step down from his role of Pope while still alive
Having the Pope he succeeded living in retirement at the Vatican is like having a 'wise grandparent' at home, Pope Francis has said.
In a speech at St Peter's Square, he hailed the value of the elderly, including his predecessor Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, who made a rare public appearance at the ceremony to help honor the contribution of grandparents to society.
Tens of thousands of people, many of them elderly couples and their grandchildren, applauded today when Francis told them that Benedict's living in papal retirement at the Vatican was 'like having a wise grandparent at home.'
Francis warmly embraced the frail, 87-year-old Benedict, who used a cane and wore a long white coat despite the warmth of a summerlike morning.
Francis, 77, decried homes for the elderly that are like 'prisons,' saying the elderly are often 'forgotten, hidden, neglected' in society, tantamount to a kind of euthanasia.
Pope Francis (right) embraces his predecessor Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI (left) during the ceremony
He said elderly persons transmit 'wisdom and faith, the most precious inheritance.'
Benedict announced his decision to resign as Pope on February 11, 2013 and formally stepped down on February 28.
By doing so, he broke a 600-year-old tradition that Popes remain in their elected position until their death.
And two weeks after he relinquished his duties, Francis was elected the first non-European pope in 1,300 years.