Pope Francis has asked for prayers for his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, saying the former head of the Catholic Church is “very ill”.
Francis made a surprising appeal to his general audience at the end.
Benedict, 95, became the first pope in nearly 600 years to step down in 2013, with the former pope receiving the title of pope emeritus.
Since then he has lived in the Vatican.
Some cardinals and canon lawyers have questioned Benedict’s decisions about retirement, including his decision to continue wearing the white cassock of the papacy.
Another point of contention is Benedict’s refusal to revert to his birth name of Joseph Ratzinger.
Critics say that election and Benedict’s continued presence at the Vatican have been confusing for Catholics and threaten church unity.
Traditionalists have been able to use Benedict as a conservative reference While he was unhappy with Francis’ decisions, he says.
Benedict resigned in 2013 due to his “failing” health.
In his letter of resignation he said: “After repeated examination of my conscience before God, I have come to the conviction that my powers, owing to old age, are not fit for the proper exercise of the ministry of Patron.” “
Pope Francis has asked for prayers for Benedict as he calls for his end. “Senseless” war in Ukraine.
In his 10th Christmas blessing, he said people should look beyond the “shallow holiday sparkle” and help the homeless, immigrants, refugees and the poor.
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