The retired pope Benedict XVI’s health is getting worse. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s health declined, Pope Francis pleaded with the faithful for prayers.
Speaking off-script on Wednesday, Francis said that Benedict is “extremely unwell.” In regards to Benedict, who is 95 years old, he did not provide any other information.
Francis added at the audience’s close, “I’d like to ask all of you for a special prayer for Emeritus Pope Benedict, who, in quiet, is maintaining the church.” The doctor has told me that his condition is critical.
Francis reportedly paid a visit to Benedict, who retired in February 2013 due to bad health, according to the Vatican. Roughly 1.3 billion people call themselves members of the Roman Catholic Church.
Information About Benedict
- Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, known as Benedict, was born in Germany in 1927. He was elected Pope in 2005 following the death of Pope John Paul II.
- American forces captured Ratzinger as a teenager and detained him as a prisoner after he defected from the Nazi German Wehrmacht. Soon after, he decided to dedicate his life to the priesthood.
- From April 2005 until February 2013, Benedict was the 265th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. The church faced widespread condemnation for its response to sexual abuse committed by priests and volunteers.
- With a Ph.D. in theology and a reputation for conservatism, Benedict XVI resigned as pope after little under ten years in office, citing the state of his health.
- To his knowledge, he was the first pope to resign since the 1400s, when serving until death became standard.
Major issues during Benedict’s time as pope
Benedict took over a church that had been under fire for years due to decades of cover-ups of sexual abuse by clergy and laypeople. Many dioceses were forced to dissolve or consolidate during his pope because of the massive financial settlements paid to victims and their families.
Knowledgeable in church theory, Benedict was a staunch traditionalist who instituted many changes that brought the Catholic Church back to its roots. Yet Francis also alienated many Catholics in the United States who expected to see more progressive policies regarding women in the church.
Some of Benedict’s remarks were offensive to Jews and Muslims as well. When he visited Turkey in 2006, he created history by entering a mosque to pray alongside Muslims.
Getting worse health
In April, when Benedict turned 95, his longtime secretary Archbishop Georg Gaenswein stated the retiring pontiff was in good spirits and that “naturally he is physically relatively weak and delicate but rather coherent.”
Benedict became known as Pope Emeritus in retirement and settled into a monastery on Vatican grounds.
Four months ago, Francis also visited Benedict at the monastery. Francis’s most recent ceremony elevated churchmen to cardinal status, and the new “princes of the church” joined him at the abbey for a brief greeting.
During that time, the Vatican issued a photo of then-Pope Benedict, who appeared to be quite frail, shaking hands with present Pope Francis.
Benedict made a few trips to St. Peter’s Basilica during his early retirement for cardinal elevation ceremonies. Unfortunately, he hasn’t had the energy to make it to the lengthy service in recent years.