Pope Francis announced Wednesday that 95-year-old Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is “very sick” after an aggravation to his current health condition.
“I want to ask you all for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict, who sustains the Church in his silence. He is very sick,” Francis said during his general audience at the Vatican. “We ask the Lord to console and sustain him in this witness of love for the Church to the very end.”
A Vatican spokesman later confirmed that “in the last few hours, there has been a deterioration due to the advancement of [Benedict’s] age.”
“The situation at the moment remains under control and continually monitored by his doctors,” spokesman Matteo Bruni said. Bruni said that Francis visited Benedict at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery in Vatican City after his general audience address.
When Benedict announced his resignation in 2013, it was the first time a pope had stepped down before dying in 600 years. The last pope to resign before his death was Gregory XII, who quit to end a civil war within the Catholic Church.
In 2020, the Vatican said Benedict suffered from a “painful but not serious condition” following reports that he was ill.
In 2018 in a public letter published in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Benedict wrote, “in the slow waning of my physical forces, inwardly I am on a pilgrimage toward Home.”
“It is a great grace for me to be surrounded on this last part of the road, sometimes a bit tiring, by such love and goodness that I never could have imagined,” he wrote.
Francis revealed earlier this month to the Spanish newspaper ABC that he frequently visits his predecessor. “He is a saint. He is a man of a high spiritual life,” said Francis.
He also commented that the Pope Emeritus lives in contemplation and that “he is lucid, very alive, he speaks softly, but he follows your conversation. He admires his intelligence. He is great.”