Pope Francis says ex-pontiff Benedict 'very ill', prays for him

Back in 2013, the latter had cited his declining physical and mental health in his decision to give up his role as the head of the worldwide Catholic church

By AFP

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Former pope Benedict (R) is greeted by Pope Francis during a ceremony to mark his 65th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood at the Vatican June 28, 2016. (Photo: Reuters/Vatican Media)
Former pope Benedict (R) is greeted by Pope Francis during a ceremony to mark his 65th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood at the Vatican June 28, 2016. (Photo: Reuters/Vatican Media)

Published: Wed 28 Dec 2022, 2:51 PM

On Wednesday, Pope Francis said that former pontiff Benedict XVI (aged 95) — whose health has steadily been deteriorating — is "very ill" and he is praying for him.

"I would like to ask all of you to pray a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict," Francis said at the end of his general audience.

He called on people to "remember him, because he is very ill, asking the Lord to console and support him".

Benedict — who in 2013 became the first pontiff to resign in six centuries — has almost entirely withdrawn from public view.

The few photographs that have emerged of him have shown him to be in increasingly-frail health.

Back in 2013, he had cited his declining physical and mental health in his decision to become the first pope since 1415 to give up the job as the head of the worldwide Catholic church.

In April, Benedict's long-time secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, told Vatican News that the ex-pope was "physically relatively weak and fragile", but "in good spirits".

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