Catholic World News

Vatican downplays concerns about health of Benedict XVI

March 25, 2016

Reacting to stories that suggested Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI is close to death, the Vatican has issued a statement indicating there there are not "any particular concerns" about the health of the retired Pontiff.

Rumors about Benedict's decline arose with the publication of an interview in which his longtime private secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, said: "He's like a candle which is slowly, serenely fading." In the full interview, Archbishop Gänswein made it clear that the physical decline of the former Pope is gradual, and that he is not facing any crisis. He remains "very lucid," and although he has increasing difficulty in walking, he continues to pray, read, receive visitors, practice on the piano, and play with cats in the Vatican gardens, his secretary reported.

Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, said that Pope-emeritus Benedict showed "the effects of old age and a gradual growing fragility of physical condition, as with any elderly person." But there are no immediate causes for alarm about his condition. 

Pope-emeritus Benedict will be 89 years old in April. 

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