STORY: "I would like to ask all of you for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict, who, in silence, is sustaining the Church," Francis said in a surprise announcement in Italian at the end of his weekly general audience.
"Let us remember him. He is very sick, asking the Lord to console and sustain him in this witness of love for the Church, until the end," Francis said, speaking in Italian.
There was no immediate comment from the Vatican on the state of Benedict's health. Phone calls to the former pope's residence in the Vatican were not answered.
Until a few weeks ago, those who had seen Benedict said his body was very frail but his mind was still sharp.