Pope Francis said the 95-year-old former Pope Benedict, who stepped down as pope nine years ago, was “very ill” after his health deteriorated Wednesday.
“I would like to ask for a special prayer for Pope Benedict, who is supporting the Church in silence. He is very ill,” Francis said at a general audience at the Vatican on Wednesday.
“I ask the Lord to comfort and support him to the end in this testimony of love to the church.”
A Vatican spokesman later confirmed that “we have seen[Benedict’s]age-related deterioration in the last few hours.”
“The current situation is under control and is being continuously monitored by his doctors,” spokesman Matteo Bruni said, after a general audience at the Mater Ecclesia Monastery in Vatican City. He added that he had visited his predecessor.
In 2013, Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world with his unprecedented decision to resign due to “old age”.
Benedict’s announcement marked the first time a Pope has resigned in nearly 600 years. The last pope to resign before his death was Gregory XII, who resigned in his 1415, ending a civil war within the Catholic Church in which multiple men claimed to be pope.
In 2020, the Vatican said: Benedict suffered From a “painful but not serious condition” following reports in the German media that he was ill.
2 years before, rare public letter Benedict, published in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, wrote, “As my physical strength slowly wanes, I am making a pilgrimage to my homeland in my mind.”
Benedict’s legacy has been clouded by recent scrutiny of his time as archbishop of Munich and Freising from 1977 to 1982.
According to the report, he had received four reports of sexual abuse involving minors, including two while in Munich, but took no action.
Benedict later refuted these allegations and admitted to having attended the meeting, denies intentional concealment his presence.