Pope Benedict news - latest: Vatican gives update on former Pope’s condition

The Vatican has said former Pope Benedict’s condition remains “grave” but stable, after Pope Francis said the former pontiff is “very ill”.

“The Pope Emeritus managed to rest well during the night, he is absolutely lucid and aware, and today, even though his condition remains grave, the situation is at the moment stable,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said.

The Vatican previously said that the deterioration in his health was due to his “advanced age” and added that Benedict was being constantly monitored by doctors.

Pope Francis had said on Wednesday: “I would like to ask all of you for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict, who, in silence, is sustaining the Church. 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.”

The latest statement did not provide any specifics about Benedict’s condition, but Francis repeated a call for prayer to “accompany” Benedict “in these difficult hours”

Benedict, who is 95, became the first pope in some 600 years to resign in 2013. He has been living in the Vatican since then.

Key Points

  • Pope Francis says Pope Benedict is ‘very sick'

  • Who is Pope Benedict?

  • Vatican: Pope Benedict’s health has ‘worsened in the last hours'

  • Key facts about Pope Benedict XVI

  • Benedict’s condition is ‘grave but stable’, says Vatican

Benedict’s condition is ‘grave but stable’, says Vatican

14:00 , Chris Stevenson

Former Pope Benedict’s condition remains “grave” but stable, the Vatican has said – adding in a statement that he had rested well during the night and was lucid and aware.

“The Pope Emeritus managed to rest well during the night, he is absolutely lucid and aware, and today, even though his condition remains grave, the situation is at the moment stable,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said.

“Pope Francis renews his request to pray for him and to accompany him in these difficult hours,” Bruni said of the 95-year-old former pontiff.

The statement, the second since Francis disclosed on Wednesday that his predecessor was “very sick”, did not provide any specifics about Benedict’s condition.

Cardinals pray for Pope Benedict

13:41 , Holly Bancroft

Cardinals from around the world have joined in prayer for Pope Benedict’s health.

Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, urged believers to ask “for the Lord’s grace to help sustain Pope Benedict as he has sustained the Church through his silent witness.”

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Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, asked the “Catholic faithful of the Archdiocese of New York” to join with him in prayer.

The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols prayed that God might “sustain and console him at this time”.

Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk called on all those in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church to pray for the emeritus Pope.

He said: “The whole Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church wants to unite in prayer around this great witness of our times, thanking him for his silent witness as Pope Emeritus and at the same time remembering and seeking to put into practice his work for the unity of the Church, which was an extraordinary feature of his pontificate.”

Archibishop Shevchuk, who met with Benedict on 10 November, said the Pope was “incredibly lucid, informed and solicitous about the situation in Ukraine, and had assured his prayers for the Ukrainian people.”

Former pope Benedict shared ‘great affinity’ with late Queen, says Cardinal

12:45 , Holly Bancroft

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI shared a “great affinity” with the late Queen, the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster has said.

The 95-year-old former pope’s historic decision to resign due to age in 2013 will remain “an exception”, and he admired the Queen for continuing her royal duties until the end, according to Cardinal Vincent Nichols.

His comments came after the Vatican said the former pope’s health has worsened due to his age, and doctors are constantly monitoring his condition.

Read the full story here:

Former pope Benedict shared ‘great affinity’ with late Queen, says Cardinal

Ailing pope’s health prompts questions of ‘what next?'

11:53 , Associated Press

The Vatican has detailed rituals and procedures to follow when a pope dies, but it has not published such rules for a pope emeritus. As a result, official word Wednesday that the health of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had worsened prompted questions about what happens if and when he dies.The answer is: There is no specific answer, at least not one the Vatican has announced ahead of time. The only thing certain is that the most important ritual following the death of a pope - a conclave to elect a new one - does not apply.

Most church watchers assume that, when they become necessary, funeral rituals for Benedict will be similar to those for a retired bishop of Rome: a funeral in either St. Peter’s Basilica or the piazza, in this case presided over by Francis rather than the dean of the College of Cardinals, and burial in the grotto underneath the basilica.“The funeral for a pope emeritus is the funeral for the bishop emeritus of Rome,” church historian Alberto Melloni said, adding that the situation isn’t entirely unprecedented since dioceses around the world have resolved how to properly honor retired bishops.

Latest pictures from the Vatican

10:53 , Holly Bancroft

Journalists and visitors have made their way to St Peter’s Square, Vatican City, this morning following news of Pope Benedict’s ill health yesterday. Here are the latest pictures from the scene :

Journalists are in place in St. Peter's Square, Vatican City, following the news that Pope Benedict is very sick (EPA)
Journalists are in place in St. Peter's Square, Vatican City, following the news that Pope Benedict is very sick (EPA)
People queue to enter St. Peter's Basilica, the day after the announcement of the worsening condition of former Pope Benedict's health (REUTERS)
People queue to enter St. Peter's Basilica, the day after the announcement of the worsening condition of former Pope Benedict's health (REUTERS)
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Catholic Archbishop of Westminster on Pope Benedict

09:12 , Holly Bancroft

The Catholic Archbishop of Westminster has said he believes that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s historic decision to resign from his post due to advancing age in 2013 will remain “an exception”.

Speaking on Times Radio, Cardinal Vincent Nichols also described the “great affinity” between the former Pope and the late Queen, and his admiration for her continuing royal duties until the end.

On the former Pope Benedict resigning his post, he said: “This is the first time in 600 years, so who knows what might develop. I think it will remain an exception myself.

“I think there was a great affinity between Pope Benedict and her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” he added.

“When Benedict decided to come to this country, he decided that the first thing he had to do was visit the Queen. And she was 95, she held her office to the end and I think he admired that very much.

“It was a measure of his self-understanding and the difficulties he was getting into physically as well that he said no, it needs somebody else to do this.”

08:45 , Holly Bancroft

Morning welcome to our live news coverage on Pope Benedict.

Yesterday the Vatican confirmed that the former Pope was very ill and his health was “worsening”. We will bring you any further updates today as and when we get them.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Wednesday 28 December 2022 16:09 , Holly Bancroft

Thanks for following along with our live updates on Pope Benedict today. We are going to be pausing our live coverage now but will bring you any breaking news at The Independent as an when it happens.

In the mean time, here is the full story on Benedict’s health:

Pope Francis asks for prayers for ‘very sick’ Benedict XVI

Key facts about Pope Benedict XVI

Wednesday 28 December 2022 16:05 , Holly Bancroft

• When he was elected in 2005, Pope Benedict was the first German pope in 1000 years. He succeeded the popular Pope John Paul II, who held the position for 27 years.

He was seen as a “safe pair of hands” to hold the papacy.

• Benedict plays piano and has a preference for Mozart and Bach.

• His eight-year papacy was marked by missteps and a leaks scandal. He angered Muslims by appearing to suggest that Islam was inherently violent. He angered Jews by rehabilitating a Holocaust denier. He was also criticised for saying that the use of condoms in the fight against AIDs only worsened the problem.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

• The 2021 ‘Vatileaks’ scandal was a significant event in his papacy. Paolo Gabriele, Benedict’s butler, leaked secret documents that revealed corruption and feuding within the Vatican.

• Child abuse scandals also hounded his papacy. Benedict was however quicker to discipline the offenders than his predecessor John Paul II had been.

Benedict ordered an inquiry into abuse in Ireland, which led to the resignation of several bishops. He also disciplined the late Father Marcial Maciel, a notorious paedophile who abused at least 60 boys.

• A 2022 report into abuse in the German church found that Benedict had failed to take action in four cases when he was Archbishop of Munich between 1977 and 1982.

Catholic church leaders from around the world join in prayer for Pope Benedict

Wednesday 28 December 2022 15:36 , Holly Bancroft

Catholic church leaders from Germany, Italy and the United States have joined in Pope Francis’s call to pray for former Pope Benedict’s health.

German cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Municht, told churchgoers on Wednesday: “This morning I received the news that there is great concern in Rome about the health of the Pope Emeritus. And so we especially want to include him in our prayers.”

Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, head of Italy’s bishops conference, asked Italians to keep Benedict in their thoughts “in this moment of suffering and trial”.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, said in a statement: “With great faith in God’s goodness, I join with Pope Francis in praying for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and ask the Catholic faithful of the Archdiocese of New York, and all people of good will go do the same.”

Watch: Pope Francis asks for prayers for 'very sick' predecessor Pope Benedict XVI

Wednesday 28 December 2022 15:02 , Holly Bancroft

The major events of Pope Benedict’s papacy and retirement

Wednesday 28 December 2022 14:09 , Holly Bancroft

19 April 2005 - German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, is elected to succeed Pope John Paul II as the 265th leader of the Roman Catholic Church. He chooses the name Benedict XVI.

9-14 September 2006 - The Pope visits his Bavarian homeland. He sparks protests from the Muslim world with a speech quoting a 14th century Byzantine emperor who said Islam had only brought evil to the world and was spread by the sword.

Days later, Benedict says he was “deeply sorry” about Muslim reaction to his speech, which he says was misunderstood.

28 November - 1 December 2006 - Papal trip to Turkey is a fence-mending visit including prayers with Istanbul’s grand mufti facing Mecca at the city’s Blue Mosque.

7 July 2007 - Pope issues a declaration allowing the old Latin Mass to be celebrated more widely, a demand of church traditionalists.

5 February 2008 - Pope changes a Latin prayer for Good Friday services by traditionalist Catholics, deleting a reference to Jews and their “blindness” but still calling for them to accept Jesus.

24 January 2009 - Pope causes uproar by lifting excommunications of four ultra-traditionalist bishops, including a Holocaust denier.

6 November 2010 - Benedict arrives in Spain for a two-day visit. He attacks abortion and gay marriage, recently legalised in Spain, in a Mass to consecrate Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia church in another pointed criticism of what he called Spain’s “aggressive secularism”.

25 July 2011 - The Vatican recalls its ambassador to Ireland following an unprecedented rebuke of the Holy See by the Irish parliament in the wake of a report that accused church authorities of covering up sexual abuse.

2012 - Through the year, Benedict’s papacy is shaken by a scandal dubbed “Vatileaks” in which leaked documents show infighting among Benedict’s aides and general dysfunction at the heart of the Church’s central administration, known as the Curia.

The scandal exposed financial corruption and allegations about the existence of a so-called “gay lobby” that used blackmail to protect its members.

6 October 2012 - A Vatican court finds Benedict’s former butler guilty of stealing sensitive documents and sentences him to a year and a half in prison.

Paolo Gabriele said he had acted out of “visceral” love for the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope. Benedict later pardoned Gabriele and the Vatican later found him a job in a hospital. Gabriele died in 2020.

11 Febuary 2013 - Benedict announces his intention to resign, saying he no longer has the physical and mental strength to run the Church. The surprise announcement shocks a meeting of cardinals.

28 February 2013 - Benedict formally steps down, moving temporarily to the papal summer residence south of Rome, and later moving to a former convent inside the Vatican gardens, with his secretary, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, and other aides and medical staff.

20 January 2022 - An independent report in Germany alleges Benedict failed to act against four cases of sexual abuse in his archdiocese when he was Archbishop of Munich between 1977 and 1982. Benedict later acknowledges errors occurred and asks for forgiveness.

28 December 2022 - His successor, Pope Francis, calls for prayers for the former pontiff saying Benedict is “very sick”.

Rishi Sunak’s thoughts with Pope Benedict, says No 10

Wednesday 28 December 2022 13:31 , Holly Bancroft

No 10 has expressed its concern about reports that Benedict XVI is “very sick”.

Rishi Sunak’s official spokesperson said: “I’m sure the PM’s thoughts are with the former Pope and his family and friends at this time.”

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Full story: Pope Francis asks for prayers for ‘very sick’ Benedict XVI

Wednesday 28 December 2022 13:03 , Holly Bancroft

Pope Francis has called for prayers for former Pope Benedict XVI – saying he is “very sick”.

Francis made the surprise appeal at the end of his general audience, he did not elaborate on the condition of Benedict.

In 2013, Benedict, 95, became the first pope in some 600 years to resign, citing his “deteriorating” health. Since then he has lived in a convent on Vatican grounds and has become increasingly frail in recent years – as he dedicates his post-papacy life to prayer and meditation.

Read the story here:

Pope Francis asks for prayers for ‘very sick’ Benedict XVI

Pope Francis visited Pope Benedict after his general audience on Wednesday morning

Wednesday 28 December 2022 12:42 , Holly Bancroft

Pope Francis visited former Pope Benedict right after his general audience on Wednesday morning, the Vatican has said.

Francis told crowds at the audience that 95-year-old Benedict was “very sick”.

 (AP)
(AP)

Pope Francis has said he would not live in the Vatican if he retires

Wednesday 28 December 2022 12:19 , Holly Bancroft

Former Pope Benedict currently lives in the Vatican, following his resignation from the position in 2013.

But what has Pope Francis said about his retirement?

The 85-year-old pontiff said in July that he would not live in the Vatican, or go back to his home-country Argentina, if he retired. He said he would prefer to find a church in Rome where he could continue hearing confessions.

He said he was not planning on retiring soon but said that “the door is open”.

Speaking about the role Benedict still plays, Francis said that having him on-hand has gone well but that the Vatican would need to better regulate the role of emeritus pope in the future.

There has been some internal criticism about the choices made by Benedict in his retirement, such as his decision to still wear the white cassock of the papacy and his refusal to revert back to his birth name, Joseph Ratzinger.

Francis said that Benedict was a “saintly and discreet man”, but added: “In the future, things should be delineated more, or things should be made more explicit. I think for having taken the first step after so many centuries, he gets 10 points. It’s a marvel.”

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Vatican: Pope Benedict’s health has ‘worsened in the last hours'

Wednesday 28 December 2022 11:22 , Holly Bancroft

The health of Pope Benedict has suddenly worsened due to his age, the Vatican has said in a statement.

Speaking after Pope Francis spoke about Benedict becoming ‘very sick’, Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni said: “Regarding the health conditions of the emeritus pope, for whom Pope Francis asked for prayers at the end of his general audience this morning, I can confirm that in the last hours, a worsening due to advanced age has happened.

“The situation at the moment remains under control, constantly monitored by doctors.”

 (VATICAN MEDIA/AFP via Getty Imag)
(VATICAN MEDIA/AFP via Getty Imag)

Recent photos show a frail Pope Benedict

Wednesday 28 December 2022 10:45 , Holly Bancroft

On 1 December, Pope Benedict received the two winners of the Ratzinger prize in the Vatican; bible scholar Friar Michel Fedou and Professor Joseph Weiler. They met in the Mater Ecclesiae monastery in the Vatican.

Photos were taken of the meeting and they are the most recent pictures we have of Pope Benedict.

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Who is Pope Benedict XVI? The early years

Wednesday 28 December 2022 10:10 , Holly Bancroft

Pope Benedict XVI, originally called Joseph Alois Ratzinger, was born in Germany.

From humble Bavarian origins, his father was a policeman and his mother a hotel cook. Young Ratzinger was six when Hitler came to power in 1933. His father, also called Joseph, was a staunch Catholic and an anti-Nazi.

As a teenager he was drafted into the army, although he has said that he never took part in combat or fired a shot.

He already had a desire to enter the priesthood at an early age and continued his education in a seminary after the war.

He was ordained as a priest in June 1951 and began a long career in academia, teaching theology at a number of universities in Germany.

 (via Reuters)
(via Reuters)

Pictures from Pope Francis’s general audience

Wednesday 28 December 2022 09:52 , Holly Bancroft

Pope Francis made the comments about Pope Benedict’s health at his weekly general audience on Wednesday.

Here are the latest photos from the event:

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

Wednesday 28 December 2022 09:51 , Holly Bancroft

Morning and welcome to our coverage of Pope Francis’s general audience.

The Pope has asked for prayers for former Pope Benedict, saying he is “very sick”.

“I would like to ask all of you for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict, who, in silence, is sustaining the Church. 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.

This is a breaking news story and we will be following along with any updates throughout the day.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)