Catholic church leaders from Germany, Britain, the United States and elsewhere took to social media to urge believers to join prayers for Benedict, who was pope for nearly eight years before retiring.
“This morning I received the news that there is great concern in Rome for the health of the Pope Emeritus. That’s why we want to include him especially in our prayers,” said the German Archbishop Reinhard Marx of Munich in front of the churchgoers.
Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, President of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, asked Italians to think of Benedict “at this moment of suffering and trial”.
Up until a few weeks ago, those who had seen Benedict said his body was very weak but his mind was still sharp.
According to Italian news reports, he had been suffering from breathing problems over the Christmas period.
The Vatican did not provide any information about his condition. There was no immediate response to a request for comment from Benedikt’s private secretary.
One of the last known photos of Benedict was taken on December 1st as he met the winners of a theologian prize named after him. He sat and looked exceptionally weak.
Since his resignation, Benedict has lived with his secretary, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, and a few other helpers and medical staff in a former monastery in the Vatican Gardens.
Benedict announced his intention to resign on February 11, 2013, shocking a meeting of cardinals. He said he no longer had the physical and mental strength to lead the Church.
On February 28 of that year he officially resigned and temporarily moved to the papal summer residence south of Rome while cardinals from around the world came to Rome to elect his successor.
Francis, the first Latin American pope, was elected his successor on March 13, 2013.
Benedict, the first German Pope in 1000 years, was elected on April 19, 2005 to succeed the widely popular Pope John Paul II, who reigned for 27 years.
Cardinals had chosen Benedict from among them in search of continuity and what has been called “a safe pair of hands.”
For nearly 25 years, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he was the powerful head of the Vatican Magisterium, then known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).
https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/former-pope-benedict-very-sick-pope-francis-calls-for-prayers-20221229-p5c96y.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_world Ex-Pope Benedict “very ill”, Pope Francis calls for prayer