Vatican Says Pope Benedict XVI Health ‘Deteriorated’ in retirement, Pope Francis asks for prayers

VATICAN CITY — The state of health of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. has worsened due to his age and doctors are constantly monitoring the 95-year-old’s condition, the Vatican said on Wednesday.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said Pope Francis, who earlier Wednesday asked the faithful to pray for Benedict, was visiting his predecessor at the convent on Vatican grounds where the retired pope has lived since his retirement in February 2013.

“Regarding the health of the Pope Emeritus, for whom Pope Francis requested prayers at the end of his general audience this morning, I can confirm that there has been an age-related deterioration in the last few hours,” Bruni said in a written statement.

“The situation is still under control at the moment, constantly monitored by doctors,” the statement said.

At the end of his usual Wednesday public audience in a Vatican auditorium, Francis deviated from his prepared remarks to say that Benedict was “very ill” and asked the faithful to pray for the retired pope.

Francis did not elaborate on Benedict’s condition.

“I would like to ask you all for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict, who quietly supports the Church,” Francis said in a remark towards the end of an hour-long audience. “I remind you that he is very ill,” Francis said.

“Let us ask the Lord to comfort him and support him to the end in this testimony of love for the Church,” Francis said.

After the hour-long audience, “Pope Francis went to the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery to greet Benedict XVI. to visit. Let us all be united with him in prayer for the Pope Emeritus,” Bruni said.

FILE – Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI arrives at St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican to attend the beatification ceremony of Pope Paul VI. to attend on October 19, 2014.

AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, file

Benedict, the first pope to resign in 600 years, has grown frail in recent years as he devoted his post-papal life to prayer and meditation.

When Benedict turned 95 in April, his longtime secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, said the retired pope was in good spirits, adding that “physically, of course, he is relatively weak and fragile, but quite lucid”.

Francis visited Benedict four months ago in the monastery. The occasion was Francis’ recent ceremony of raising churchmen to the rank of cardinals, and the new “church princes” accompanied him for a brief greeting.

The Vatican released a photo at the time showing a very thin looking Benedict clasping one of Francis’ hands while the current and former pope smiled at each other.

In his first years of retirement, Benedict attended some cardinal ceremonies in St. Peter’s Basilica. But in recent years he has not been strong enough to attend the long service.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Vatican Says Pope Benedict XVI Health ‘Deteriorated’ in retirement, Pope Francis asks for prayers

Laura Coffey

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