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Francis says former pope Benedict is ‘very sick,’ asks for prayers

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FILED - Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI arrives at the airport for his return flight to the Vatican. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is "very ill," according to his successor Francis. Photo: Sven Hoppe/dpa-Pool/dpa

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is “very sick,” his successor Pope Francis said on Wednesday.

Francis asked the Catholic faithful at the end of a general audience at the Vatican for a “special prayer” for the 95-year-old Benedict.

“Remember him, he is very sick, and ask the Lord to comfort and support him in this testimony of love to the Church, until the end,” Francis said.

Francis and the Holy See did not give further details about Benedict’s condition.

The Bavarian-born pope, whose name was Joseph Ratzinger before he was elected pope, has lived in relative seclusion in a Vatican monastery since his resignation in 2013.

It has been said for months that Benedict was physically frail and could hardly speak.

The eighth German to become pope in the 2,000-year-old history of Catholicism, and the second non-Italian in nearly 500 years, Ratzinger chose the name Benedict in honour of St Benedict, the 5th century founder of European monasticism.

Benedict resigned on February 28, 2013, the first pope in nearly 600 years to take such action. That cleared the way for the election of his Argentine successor Francis.

©dpa

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