Pope Francis appeals for prayers for ‘very ill’ predecessor Benedict

Pope Francis has said former Pope Benedict XVI is very ill and he has asked pilgrims at the Vatican to pray for him, the BBC reports.

Benedict, 95, became the first leader of the Catholic Church to stand down in 600 years in 2013, citing advanced age.

At the end of the Pope’s final audience of the year, he asked people to “pray a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict.”

The Vatican then said the ex-Pope’s health had worsened in recent hours.

“The situation at the moment remains under control, constantly followed by doctors,” said spokesman Matteo Bruni.

Pope Francis was addressing a general audience in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall when he looked up from a piece of paper and spoke about Benedict’s declining health.

He then made the short trip from the hall to the Vatican Gardens to see Benedict at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery, where he has lived since he stepped down.

Earlier this month Francis revealed he frequently visited his predecessor.

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