VATICAN CITY (AP) — The health of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has worsened due to his age, and doctors are constantly monitoring the frail 95-year-old’s condition, the Vatican said Wednesday.
Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni said Pope Francis, who asked the faithful earlier Wednesday 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 condition 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.
At the end of his customary Wednesday audience with the public in a Vatican auditorium, Francis departed from his prepared remarks to say that Benedict is “very sick” and asked the faithful to pray for the retired pontiff.
Francis didn't elaborate on Benedict's condition.
“I would like to ask you all for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict, who is sustaining the church in silence,” Francis said. “Remember him — he is very ill — asking the Lord to console him and to sustain him in this testimony to love for the church, until the end.”
After the hour-long audience, “Pope Francis went to the Mater Ecclesiae monastery to visit Benedict XVI. Let us all unite with him in prayer for the emeritus pope,″ Bruni said.
Benedict, who was the first pontiff to resign in 600 years, has become increasingly frail in recent years as he dedicated his post-papacy life to prayer and meditation.
In Benedict's native Germany, the head of that nation's bishops' conference, Limburg Bishop Georg Baetzing, joined in Francis’ call for prayers.
“My thoughts are with the emeritus pope,” Baetzing told German news agency dpa. “I call on the faithful in Germany to pray for Benedict XVI.”
In Berlin, Chancellor Olaf Scholz “wishes the German pope, as we say, a good recovery and his thoughts are with him,” government spokesperson Christiane Hoffmann said during a regular government news conference.
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