Cardinals charged with electing a successor to Benedict XVI sent the former pontiff a telegramme on Tuesday which thanked him for his ministry and expressed the gratitude of the whole Roman Catholic Church.
"The cardinal fathers, gathered at the Vatican for the general congregations in view of the next conclave, send you their devoted greetings," said the telegramme, which was written by electors attending pre-conclave meetings in the Vatican.
They also expressed their gratitude "for your example of generous pastoral care for the good of the Church and the world," in the message sent to Benedict, who retired as pope on Thursday and is staying in the summer papal palace of Castel Gandolfo near Rome.
"With their gratitude they hope to represent the recognition of the entire Church for your tireless work in the vineyard of the lord," it said, showing that the 85-year old has not been forgotten by those focusing now on the future pope.
"The members of the college of cardinals trust in your prayers for them, as well as for the whole Church," it added, as the electors debate when the conclave to elect a new pope should begin.
Benedict, now known as "pope emeritus", will stay in Castel Gandolfo during the conclave and is expected to move at the end of April to a monastery on the grounds of the Vatican, where he will live out his retirement.