Pope Francis said on Wednesday that his predecessor, Pope Benedict, was “very ill” and asked for prayers for the 95-year-old ex-pope.
“I want to ask you all a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict who supports the Church in his silence. He is very ill,” Francis said during his public audience in the Vatican on Wednesday.
“We ask the Lord to comfort and support him in this testimony of love for the Church to the end.”
In 2013, Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world by making the almost unprecedented decision to resign from office, citing “advancing age.”
Benedict’s announcement marked the first time a pope had stepped down in nearly 600 years. The last pope to resign before his death was Gregory XII, who resigned in 1415 to end a civil war within the Catholic Church in which more than one man claimed to be pope.
In 2020, the Vatican said Benedict suffered From a “painful but not serious condition”, following reports in the German media that he was ill.
Two years ago, V.I Rare public speech Published in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Benedict wrote that “in the slow waning of my physical strength, I am inwardly on a pilgrimage homeward”.
Benedict’s legacy has been clouded by recent scrutiny of his time as archbishop of Munich and Freising, between 1977 and 1982, after the publication in January of a church-commissioned report on mistreatment by Catholic clergy there.
The report found that he had been informed of four cases of sexual abuse of minors – including two during his time in Munich – but had failed to act, and that he had attended a meeting about an abusive priest.
Later, Benedict dismissed the allegations, admitting that he had attended the meeting however denied that it was intentionally concealed existence.
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