Vatican says retired Pope Benedict’s health ‘deteriorating’

VATICAN CITY — The health of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has deteriorated due to advanced age, and doctors have been monitoring the 95-year-old, the Vatican said Wednesday.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said Pope Francis asked the faithful to pray for Benedict XVI earlier Wednesday as he visited his predecessor, the retired pope, since February 2013, at the Vatican monastery. Have lived there since retirement.

“Regarding the health of the emeritus pope, Pope Francis asked for prayers for him at the end of the general audience this morning, and I can confirm that it has deteriorated over the past few hours due to advanced age,” Bruni said . a written statement.

“The situation remains under control and is under constant monitoring by doctors,” the statement said.

During his routine Wednesday meeting with the public in a Vatican auditorium, Francis left his prepared speech, saying Benedict was “very ill” and asking the faithful to pray for the retiring pontiff.

Francis did not elaborate on Benedict’s situation.

“I would like to ask all of you to pray a special prayer for retired Pope Benedict, who silently supported the Church,” Francis said as the hour-long audience drew to a close. “I remind you, he was very ill,” Francis said.

“Let us ask the Lord to comfort him and support his testimony of love for the Church to the end,” Francis said.

After an hour-long audience, “Pope Francis went to visit Benedict XVI at the Mater Ecclesiae abbey. Let us all join him in praying for the Pope Emeritus,” Bruni said.

Benedict, the first pope in 600 years to resign, has grown frail in recent years as he devotes his post-papal life to prayer and meditation.

In April, when Benedict turned 95, his longtime secretary, Archbishop George Gainswain, said the retired pope was in good spirits, adding that “his body is naturally relatively weak and fragile, but quite wide awake.”

Francis had visited Benedict at the Abbey four months earlier. The occasion was Francis’ latest elevation of a priest to cardinal, and he was accompanied by a brief greeting by the new “prince of the church”.

The Vatican released a photo at the time showing a very thin Benedict holding Francis’ hand as the current and former popes look at each other and smile.

During the first few years of his retirement, Benedict attended several cardinal ordinations at St. Peter’s Basilica. But in recent years, he has not been physically strong enough to participate in long-term service.

Frances DeMiglio