Pope Francis: Benedict Is 'Very Sick'

Pontiff's predecessor looked 'exceptionally weak' in last photo of him earlier this month
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 28, 2022 6:05 AM CST
Updated Dec 28, 2022 6:47 AM CST
Pope Francis: Pray for Benedict
Pope Francis, left, embraces Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on June 28, 2017.   (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP, File)

Pope Francis often asks for prayers for various people in need. At the end of his weekly address at the Vatican on Wednesday, however, he had a surprise request. "I would like to ask all of you for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict, who, in silence, is sustaining the Church," he said, calling his predecessor "very sick," per NBC News. The Vatican followed Francis' remarks up afterward with a statement that noted the 95-year-old Benedict XVI, aka Joseph Ratzinger of Germany, had seen his health "worsened due to age" over the past day.

"The situation at present is under control, monitored constantly by doctors," Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni noted. In February 2013, Benedict made the shocking announcement that he would resign as pope, saying he was in no physical or mental condition to run the Roman Catholic Church any longer. It was the first time a pope had stepped away from his post like that in six centuries. Francis, the world's first Latin American pope, was elected to the position a month later.

Benedict has been living within the Vatican's confines, inside a former convent, since his retirement. CBS News notes these circumstances have "created an unprecedented situation in which two popes ... have co-existed within the walls of the tiny city state." Per Reuters, the last photo of Benedict was taken earlier this month, when he "was seated and looked exceptionally weak." Bruni said that Francis went to visit Benedict after making his weekly address, per CBS News. (More Pope Benedict XVI stories.)

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