February 6, 2023

Retired Pope Benedict XVI ‘very ill’; Pope Francis appealed to the Vatican for prayers


ROME – Pope Francis said his predecessor Benedict XVI was “very ill” and the Vatican said the 95-year-old’s health had “deteriorated”, prompting the Catholic Church to put one of its most senior conservative figures under surveillance.

“I ask all of you for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict,” Francis told pilgrims in his general audience on Wednesday, asking God to comfort and sustain Benedict “until the end.”

“The situation is currently under control and is being constantly monitored by doctors,” the Vatican said in a statement.

The comments appear to mark a worrying turnaround for years of frail but sharp-minded Benedict, who has been a former pope longer than he has served as pope.

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A close friend of Benedict’s, who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak openly about a sensitive matter, said the retired pontiff had been frail since before Christmas, but there had been no update on his health in recent hours.

“Time was certainly not on his side,” said the friend. “There are definitely some concerns.”

After Francis’ public audience, he met with Benedict in a convent within the ancient walls of the Vatican. The Vatican statement said, “We join [Francis] Praying for Pope Emeritus.

In photos released by the Vatican Benedict – on August 27, after the ceremony to name the new cardinals – showed him crouched. But friends said he was clear-headed.

Benedict’s longtime aide, Archbishop Georg Conswein, did not respond to a request for comment.

In 2013, Benedict became the first pope to resign in six centuries. He quoted “deteriorated” As a factor in his asceticism, he had a long final chapter in retirement. In 2018, he told Italian daily Corriere della Sera that he was “on a pilgrimage home”.

He vowed to lead a secluded life – reading, writing, walking in a majestic garden. But his life behind closed doors ended up getting more complicated — and complicated for the church.

He chose to wear papal white and chose not to revert to his given name, Joseph Ratzinger. He has been embraced as a symbol by a small but vocal group of traditionalists who say Francis is misleading the church. Although Benedict was often silent on controversial matters, he intervened many times. conflicting Francis’ views on the nature of clerical abuse and opposition to exceptions floated later Priestly celibacy.

At the same time, he made it clear that there was only one higher authority in the church. “There is a pope, and he is Francis,” Benedict said in an interview.

Francis and Benedict have had a publicly warm relationship, and the current pontiff regularly quotes his predecessor in admiration. But their stylistic and policy differences have fueled intrigue about their relationship over the years, while also providing a boost. Netflix movie.

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At one point – the resignation issue – Francis described Benedict as a trendsetter with a clear vision. He said Benedict’s decision “should not be considered an exception” and that Benedict “opened a door” for other popes to follow suit. Many church watchers have speculated that Francis would be reluctant to step down if Benedict is alive and well, given the headaches for the church with two former popes. But Benedict’s death may finally allow Francis, 86, to consider stepping down.

Benedict became one of the church’s leading theologians by keeping an orthodox line, leading the campaign — first as a cardinal, then as pope — to resist changes brought about by outside forces. If the church tries to bend to the whims of the modern age, he argues, its teachings will be weakened.

His tenure as pope coincided with the escalation of a wave of clerical abuse cases, one of its primary crises. While Benedict went further than his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, who dismissed hundreds of priests, he was slow to grasp the systemic nature of the problem.

More recently, Benedict’s reputation was damaged by the church-appointed German Inquisition accusing him “wrong” He handled many cases during his tenure as archbishop of Munich.