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Former Pope Benedict is in a ‘serious but stable’ condition’ – Vatican says

Dec 29, 2022

Former Pope Benedict is “absolutely lucid and alert” and his condition is serious but stable, the Vatican has said.


The update comes a day after Pope Francis said his predecessor Benedict XVI is “very sick” and asked the faithful to pray for the retired pontiff so God will comfort him “to the very end”.


Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said: “The Pope Emeritus was able to rest well last night. He is absolutely lucid and alert today, although his condition remains serious, the situation at the moment is stable. Pope Francis renews his invitation to pray for him and accompany him in these difficult hours.”


Benedict, who in 2013 became the first pope since the Middle Ages to resign as head of the worldwide Catholic Church, has been in fragile health for many years and uses a wheelchair.


But Pope Francis sparked alarm on Wednesday by revealing at his general audience that his predecessor, whose birth name is Joseph Ratzinger, was ‘very sick’.


Francis called for people to pray for his predecessor, before going to visit Benedict at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery in the Vatican grounds where he lives.


The Vatican later confirmed the ex-pope’s health had worsened ‘due to advancing age’, while a Vatican source told AFP Wednesday that it began deteriorating ‘about three days ago’.


‘It is his vital functions that are failing, including his heart,’ the source said, adding that no hospitalisation was planned, as he has the ‘necessary medical equipment’ at home.


The Vatican also announced a special mass to be held on Friday at Rome’s Basilica of St John Lateran.


In 2013, Benedict had cited his declining physical and mental health in his shock decision to stand down.


His resignation created an unprecedented situation in which two ‘men in white’ – Benedict and Pope Francis – have co-existed within the walls of the tiny city-state.


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