The Pope has asked to pray for 95-year-old Benedict XVI, whose health conditions are extremely weak, and has pointed out that he “is very sick.”
Francis has thus requested a “special prayer” for the pope emeritus “who in silence sustains the Church.” “He is very sick. Let us ask God to comfort him and sustain him in his testimony of love for the Church until the end,” said the pontiff during the general audience this Wednesday.
The director of the Vatican press office, Matteo Bruni, has subsequently confirmed a “worsening” of Benedict XVI’s health conditions, although for the moment he has not been transferred to any hospital and his condition is “under continuous medical control”.
“In the last hours there has been a worsening due to his advanced age. The situation at this moment is under control, constantly attended by doctors,” Bruni said in the brief press release.
Francisco, who this morning during the general audience has asked for prayers after revealing that he “is very ill”, has come to visit him at the Mater Ecclesiae convent, located in the Vatican gardens. Shortly after, he tweeted: “#Let’s pray together for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who in silence continues to pray for the Church. Let us ask the Lord to console him and sustain him in this testimony of love for the Church, until the end.” This message has been joined by cardinals, faithful and Catholic media asking for a prayer for the pope emeritus.
Although he is 95 years old and has reduced his public agenda to a minimum, Benedict XVI continues to receive visits. On August 27, the pope emeritus met, as is his custom, with the new cardinals created by Francis at the end of the consistory. However, his state of health did not allow them to speak with them.
According to his environment, despite the natural ailments linked to his advanced age, he has retained full intellectual lucidity. However, in the last two years his state of health has drastically worsened. In addition to problems articulating words, he cannot move independently and requires a wheelchair at all times.
The pope emeritus has not participated in public events for several years and there are no recent video images, but the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation usually publishes photos of the few visits he receives.
One of the last snapshots is from November 4 when he received at the Mater Ecclesiae convent, where he has resided since he resigned from the pontificate in 2013, the Russian painter, Natalia Tsarkova, who portrayed him together with his brother, Georg, now deceased, and the people who currently care for you.
MORE TIME AS EMERITUS THAN ACTIVE
His longevity as pope emeritus, more than nine and a half years, has exceeded the duration of his pontificate.
Experts consulted by Europa Press point out that, although there are no precedents for a funeral of an emeritus pope, it is expected that the same procedure be followed as if he were an active pope, similar to what happens with emeritus bishops. Thus, a mass would be offered for the deceased with a series of symbolic elements. For example, at the funeral of John Paul II, the Gospel descended on his coffin.
In addition, these types of celebrations have a more solemn character and are usually attended by personalities from all over the world. These experts believe that Pope Francis will “turn” to make it a “high-rise” funeral, with the presence of heads of state and former friends of the pope emeritus.