Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is “very ill” and Pope Francis has asked for prayers for his predecessor, it was reported Wednesday in Vatican City.
Born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger in Marktl am Inn, Germany, on April 16, 1927, he became leader of the Catholic Church on April 19, 2005, after the death of John Paul II. He abdicated on Feb. 28, 2013, thus becoming the first pope to step down since Gregory XII in 1415.
”I would like to ask you all for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict (...), to remember him, because he is very ill, asking the Lord to comfort and sustain him, Francis said at the Paul VI hall.
I can confirm that in recent hours there has been a worsening, due to his advanced age. The situation is for the moment under control, followed permanently by the doctors,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement.
Since his retirement, Benedict XVI has stayed out of the spotlight, except for occasional appearances, such as the ones in 2014 when Francis created 19 new cardinals (Feb. 22) or as a guest at the canonization ceremony for Popes John XXIII and John Paul II (April 27).
Earlier this year, Ratzinger was singled out in a report in Germany for his handling of cases of child sex abuse when he was archbishop of Munich, and he came out of his silence to ask for forgiveness, assuring that he never covered up for any abuser.
His resignation, announced in Latin on Feb. 11, 2013, paved the way for the election of the Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as his successor, who chose to be known as Francis.
Ratzinger taught theology for 25 years in Germany before being appointed archbishop of Munich. During his papacy, Benedict XVI was a staunch defender of traditional Catholic values regarding abortion, homosexuality, and euthanasia. He also opposed the so-called Liberation Theology.
He is an accomplished pianist and has a fondness for Mozart.