….. Pope Francis Prays For Ailing Ex-Pontiff Benedict
Pope Francis said Wednesday that former pontiff Benedict XVI, 95, whose health has steadily been deteriorating, is “very ill” and he is praying for him.
“I would like to ask all of you to pray a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict,” Francis said at the end of his general audience.
He called on people to “remember him, because he is very ill, asking the Lord to console and support him”.
Benedict, who in 2013 became the first pontiff to resign in six centuries, has almost entirely withdrawn from public view.
The few photographs that have emerged of him have shown him to be in increasingly frail health.
Back in 2013, he had cited his declining physical and mental health in his decision to become the first pope since 1415 to give up the job as head of the worldwide Catholic church.
In April, Benedict’s long-time secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, told Vatican News the ex-pope was “physically relatively weak and fragile”, but “in good spirits”.
The pope made the announcement on Wednesday during his weekly general audience.
He asked for prayers on behalf of the ailing former pontiff, adding that the 95-year-old supports the church “in silence”.
“I want to ask you all for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict who sustains the Church in his silence. He is very sick,” Francis said.
“Let’s ask the Lord to comfort him and sustain him in this testimony of love to the church to the very end.”
Benedict XVI was the pope from April 19, 2005, until his resignation on February 28, 2013.
“After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,” the former pontiff said at the time.
Benedict XVI is the first pope to voluntarily abdicate his office in over 700 years.
Since resigning, he has lived in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery inside the Vatican and has been largely withdrawn from public life.