“Former Pontiff Benedict XVI Is “Very Ill” – Pope Francis

Pope Francis said Wednesday that former pontiff Benedict XVI, 95, is “very ill”, and urged people to pray for him before going to be by his side, according to AFP.

Benedict, who in 2013 became the first pontiff to resign in six centuries, has been in increasingly frail health. Speaking at the end of his general audience at the Vatican, Francis said:

I would like to ask all of you to pray a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict.

Remember him, because he is very ill, asking the Lord to console and support him.

A short while later, the Vatican confirmed Benedict’s health has worsened “in the last few hours” and said Francis visited him after his audience. Spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement:

In the last few hours there has been a deterioration due to advancing age.

The situation at the moment remains under control, monitored continually by doctors.

Benedict had cited his declining physical and mental health back in 2013 in his decision to become the first pope since 1415 to stand down as head of the worldwide Catholic church.

The former pope whose real name is Joseph Ratzinger, has since lived a quiet life in a former convent inside the Vatican.

Benedict was 78 when he succeeded the long-reigning and popular John Paul II in April 2005.

He stepped down in February 2013 in an announcement delivered to cardinals in Latin, later saying the decision was the result of a mystical experience.

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