Pope Francis and retired Pope Benedict in the Vatican in 2016 ABACA

Vatican says health of retired pope Benedict XVI ‘worsening’

95-year-old Benedict became the first pontiff to resign in six centuries when he stepped down in 2013.

LAST UPDATE | Dec 28th 2022, 1:00 PM

THE HEALTH OF Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has worsened due to his age, and doctors are constantly monitoring the 95-year-old’s condition, the Vatican has said.

Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni said Pope Francis, who asked the faithful earlier today to pray for Benedict, went to visit his predecessor in the monastery on Vatican grounds where the retired pontiff has lived since retiring in February 2013.

“Regarding the health conditions of the emeritus pope, for whom Pope Francis asked for prayers at the end of his general audience this morning, I can confirm that in the last hours, a worsening due to advanced age has happened,” Bruni said in a written statement.

“The situation at the moment remains under control, constantly monitored by doctors,” according to the statement.

Pope Francis earlier said his predecessor is “very sick”, and he asked the faithful to pray for the retired pontiff so God will comfort him “to the very end”.

Pope Francis did not immediately elaborate on the condition of Benedict, who was the first pope to retire in 600 years, but the Vatican later confirmed his “worsening” health.

Benedict has become increasingly frail in recent years as he dedicated his post-papacy life to prayer and meditation.

“I’d like to ask all of you for a special prayer for Emeritus Pope Benedict, who, in silence, is sustaining the church,” Francis said in remarks near the end of an hour-long audience. “I remind you that he is very sick.

“Let’s ask the Lord to comfort him and sustain him in this testimony of love to the church to the very end.”

Earlier this year, Francis admitted that he needs to slow down, telling reporters after a six-day trip to Canada that he cannot maintain his pace of international travel – and may have to think about retiring.

“I don’t think I can go at the same pace as I used to travel,” said the pope, who suffers pain in his knee that has seen him increasingly reliant on a wheelchair.

He revealed for the first time in an interview this month that he signed a resignation letter nearly a decade ago should poor health prevent him from carrying out his duties.

Press Association
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