Pope Francis asks to pray for a very sick Benedict XVI

VATICAN CITY (HPD) — Pope Francis said Wednesday that his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, is “very ill” and asked the faithful to pray for the retired pontiff that God comfort him “until the end.”

Francis did not comment on the health of Benedict, who resigned as pontiff in February 2013, becoming the first pope to retire in 600 years.

Benedict, 95, lives in a convent in the Vatican. In recent years he has become increasingly fragile as he spends his post-papacy life in prayer and meditation.

“I would like to ask everyone for a special prayer, for Pope Emeritus Benedict, who is silently supporting the Church,” Francis said after an hour-long audience. “Remember him, he is very sick,” Francisco said. Ask “the Lord to console him, and sustain him in this testimony of love for the church, until the end.”

It was not clear if Francis was referring to Benedict’s health in general or if his predecessor was suffering from some illness.

A Vatican spokesman, asked about Benedict’s health, said the press office was seeking details.

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