Call for prayers as health of 'very sick' former pope Benedict worsens


The world leader of the Roman Catholic church, Pope Francis, has warned that the health of his 95-year-old predecessor, Benedict XVl, continues to deteriorate. The pontiff has called on the faithful to pray for a man who "is very sick".

The Vatican on Wednesday confirmed the health of ex-pontiff Benedict XVI has worsened in the last few hours and he had been visited by Pope Francis.

"I can confirm that in the last few hours there has been a deterioration due to advancing age. The situation at the moment remains under control, monitored continually by doctors," spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement.

Earlier, Pope Francis ended his daily general audience by calling for "special prayer for pope emeritus Benedict".

Francis requested the faithful to "remember him, because he is very ill, asking the Lord to console and support him".

In 2013, Benedict became the first pontiff to resign in six centuries, citing declining physical and mental health. He has been seen only rarely in public since, and has been described as increasingly frail.

The German pope emeritus, whose real name is Joseph Ratzinger, has been living a quiet life in a former convent inside the Vatican.

His resignation created an unprecedented situation in which two popes have lived within the walls of the tiny city state.

Benedict was 78 years old when he succeeded the long-reigning and popular John Paul II in April 2005.

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