POPE Emeritus Benedict XVI will move back to the Vatican on Thursday to live out his retirement in a restored convent close to where his successor now leads the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican said.
Benedict has been living at the papal summer residence south of Rome since Feb. 28 when he became the first pope in modern times to abdicate. He stayed there while work was being done on the convent inside the Vatican where he is expected to live out the rest of his days.
The presence of a reigning pope and a former one is a new situation, but experts say it would only cause difficulties if Benedict tries to influence Pope Francis's decisions, something he has promised not to do.
Shortly before his resignation, Benedict, now 86 and in failing health, said he would be "withdrawing into prayer" and would live out his remaining days "hidden from the world".
Some Church scholars worry that in the event that Francis undoes some of Benedict's policies while he is still alive, the former pope could become a lightning rod for conservatives and polarise the Church.
Benedict now wears a simple white cassock without a cape, while Francis wears a white cassock with a short cape, the traditional garb for a pope.