Pope Benedict and Pope Francis
Pope Benedict, the 95-year-old former pontiff who retired from the position nine years ago, has been described by Pope Francis as “extremely unwell” following a decline in his health on Wednesday.
“I would like to request that everyone say a particular prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict, who upholds the Church via his quiet. Francis told his general audience at the Vatican on Wednesday that the man was seriously ill.
We pray that the Lord will comfort and keep him strong as he continues to show his love for the Church.
Later, a Vatican spokeswoman acknowledged that “Benedict’s condition has deteriorated in the last several hours as a result of his advancing age.”
After his general audience, Francis paid a visit to his predecessor at the Mater Ecclesiae convent in Vatican City, according to the spokesperson, Matteo Bruni, who added that “the situation at the moment is under control and continuously followed by his physicians.”
Pope Benedict XVI surprised the world in 2013 when he abruptly announced his resignation from the papacy, citing “advanced age.”
The news of Benedict’s resignation was the first resignation of a pope in over 600 years. Gregory XII, the last pope to step down before dying, did so in 1415 to end a papal succession dispute within the Catholic Church.
Following allegations in German media that Benedict was unwell, the Vatican stated in 2020 that he had a “painful but not dangerous ailment.”
Two years previously, Benedict stated that “with the progressive diminishing of my physical energies, inwardly I am on a pilgrimage toward Home” in a rare public letter published in the Italian daily Corriere Della Sera.
The recent investigation of Benedict’s tenure as Archbishop of Munich and Freising, from 1977 to 1982, following the publication in January of a Church-commissioned inquiry into abuse by Catholic clergy there, has cast a shadow over his legacy.
According to the investigation, he was made aware of four instances of child sex abuse, including two that occurred while he was living in Munich, but he did nothing about them. He also admitted to attending a meeting concerning a predatory priest.
Later, Benedict responded to those accusations by acknowledging his attendance at the meeting but refuting claims that he did so on purpose.