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Ex-pontiff Benedict critically ill – Pope Francis

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… Calls for prayers

The pontiff, Pope Francis has said his predecessor, Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI is very ill and urged all faithful to pray for him.

Pope Francis who was on a visit to Pope Benedict XVI residence after a consistory at the Vatican, urged the faithful to embark on prayers more than going to be by his side.

“I would like to ask all of you to pray a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict,” Francis said while concluding his general audience at the Vatican on Wednesday.

Reports say Benedict, who in 2013 became the first pontiff to resign in six centuries, has been in increasingly frail health.

“Remember him, because he is very ill, asking the Lord to console and support him,” Pope Francis said.

The Vatican, while confirming Emeritus Pope, Benedict’s health condition said the situation is not improving.

“In the last few hours, there has been a deterioration due to advancing age,” spokesman Matteo Bruni said, adding that he is continually being monitored by doctors at the moment.

It will be recalled that Benedict had in 2013, cited his declining physical and mental health in his decision to resign as head of the worldwide Catholic Church, becoming the first pope to do so, since 1415.

National Light gathered that Emeritus Pope Benedict, a German by origin; whose real name is Joseph Ratzinger, had since lived a quiet life in a former convent inside the Vatican.

In 2020, Maltese Cardinal Mario Grech said Benedict “has difficulty in expressing himself.”

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”.

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The 95-year-old Emeritus pope was 78 when he succeeded the long-reigning and popular John Paul II in April 2005.

He became the first pontiff to apologise for the abuse scandals that emerged around the world, expressing “deep remorse” and meeting with victims in person.

Report further says, Benedict is considered a conservative intellectual, unlike his successor Pope Francis, a Jesuit who delights in being among his flock.

He stepped down in February 2013 in an announcement delivered to cardinals in Latin, attributing his decision to a ‘result of a mystical experience’.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis, 86, has hinted that he may also resign at some point; disclosing that he signed a resignation letter nearly a decade ago, should poor health prevent him from carrying out his duties.

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