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Pope Francis asks for prayers for ‘very sick’ retired Pope Benedict XVI — Photo gallery

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Pope Francis greets retired Pope Benedict XVI at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery after a consistory for the creation of 20 new cardinals in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Aug. 27, 2022. Looking on is Archbishop Georg Gänswein, the retired pope's private secretary. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY — Saying that retired Pope Benedict XVI was “very sick,” Pope Francis asked people to offer special prayers for him.

“I would like to ask all of you for a special prayer for emeritus Pope Benedict,” Pope Francis said at the end of his weekly general audience Dec. 28.

The 95-year-old retired pope “is sustaining the church in silence,” Pope Francis said. “Remember him. He is very sick.”

“Ask the Lord to console him and sustain him in his witness of love for the church until the very end,” Pope Francis said.

The Vatican press office did not immediately respond to requests for more information about the retired pope.

On Feb. 11, 2013, Pope Benedict announced that he would retire effective Feb. 28 that year. He spent the first several months of his retirement at the papal summer villa in Castel Gandolfo before moving into the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican Gardens where he has lived since.

The retired pope has looked increasingly frail, but as recently as Dec. 1 the foundation that promotes his theological work released photos of him meeting with the two winners of the Ratzinger Prize. He also met in August at the monastery with Pope Francis and the new cardinals the pope had just created.