Pope Benedict, 95, who resigned nine years ago, is “very ill” after his health worsened on Wednesday, Pope Francis said.
“I would like to ask all of you for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict, who keeps the Church at peace. He is very ill,” Francis said during his general audience at the Vatican on Wednesday.
“We ask God to comfort and sustain him in this witness of love for the Church until the end.”
A Vatican spokesman later confirmed, “In the last few hours (Benedict) has had a decline due to advancing age.”
“The situation is currently under control and is being monitored regularly by his doctors,” said spokesman Matteo Bruni, as Francis visited his predecessor, the Mater Ecclesia monastery in Vatican City, after his public audience.
In 2013, Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world by making the almost unprecedented decision to resign his post, citing “advanced age.”
Benedict’s announcement marks the first time a pope has resigned in nearly 600 years. The last pope to resign before his death was Gregory XII, who left in 1415 to end a civil war within the Catholic Church in which more than one man claimed to be pope.
In 2020, the Vatican said Benedict suffered Following reports in the German media that he was ill, “in pain but not in a serious condition”.
Two years ago, in A rare public letter “Inwardly I am on a pilgrimage homeward as my physical powers slowly decline,” wrote Benedict, published in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
A recent investigation into Benedict’s tenure as archbishop of Munich and Freising between 1977 and 1982, and the release of a church-ordered report in January, alleges abuse by Catholic priests there.
The report found that he was informed of four sexual abuse cases involving minors – including two while he was in Munich – but failed to act, and that he attended a meeting about an abusive priest.
Benedict later pushed back against the allegations, admitting he attended the meeting He denied any deliberate concealment His existence.