Pope and former pope meet ahead of Brazil trip

VATICAN CITY Fri Jul 19, 2013 12:37pm EDT

Pope Francis smiles as he arrives to lead the weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican June 19, 2013. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

Pope Francis smiles as he arrives to lead the weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican June 19, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Stefano Rellandini

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis paid a visit to his predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict on Friday ahead of his trip next week to Brazil, a visit originally scheduled to have been made by Benedict.

Benedict was to have presided at World Youth Day, a gathering of young Catholics from around the globe, which takes place in Rio de Janeiro July 22-28.

But he resigned on February 28, saying he no longer had the strength to run the 1.2 billion-member Catholic Church. He was the first pontiff in 600 years to step down instead of reigning for life.

Francis spent more than 30 minutes with Benedict, who is living in a former convent on the Vatican grounds, and gave him a program of the trip in case he wanted to watch events on television, the Vatican said.

It is Francis' first trip outside Italy since he was elected on March 13, and takes the Argentine pontiff to the continent of his birth.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)