Pope Francis, head of the Roman Catholic Church, has disclosed that Pope Benedict XVI, his predecessor, is “very sick”.
The pope made the announcement on Wednesday during his weekly general audience.
He asked for prayers on behalf of the ailing former pontiff, adding that the 95-year-old supports the church “in silence”.
He said, “I want to ask you all for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict who sustains the Church in his silence. He is very sick.”
“Let’s ask the Lord to comfort him and sustain him in this testimony of love to the church to the very end.”
Benedict XVI was the pope from April 19, 2005, until his resignation on February 28, 2013.
“After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,” the former pontiff said at the time.
Benedict XVI is the first pope to voluntarily abdicate his office in over 700 years.
Since resigning, he has lived in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery inside the Vatican and has been largely withdrawn from public life.