Friday, February 3, 2023
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Former pope Benedict is ‘very sick’, Pope Francis says

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EDITOR'S CHOICE

Former pope Benedict, 95, who in 2013 became the first pontiff in 600 years to step down, is “very sick”, his successor Pope Francis said on Wednesday, asking the church to pray for him.

The Vatican later said in a statement Benedict had suffered a sudden “worsening” of his health in recent hours. It also said his condition was “under control” and that he was receiving constant medical attention.

“I would like to ask all of you for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict, who, in silence, is sustaining the Church,” Francis said in his surprise announcement in Italian at the end of his weekly general audience.

“Let us remember him. He is very sick, asking the Lord to console and sustain him in this witness of love for the Church, until the end,” Francis said, speaking in Italian.

Francis, who visited the former pontiff shortly after his general audience, has often praised Benedict, saying it was like having a grandfather in a home. But the presence of two men dressed in white in the Vatican has at times been troublesome.

Conservatives have looked to the former pope as their standard bearer and some ultra-traditionalists even refused to acknowledge Francis as a legitimate pontiff.

Until a few weeks ago, those who had seen Benedict said his body was very frail but his mind was still sharp.

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