Vatican City — Pope Francis said Wednesday that his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, is "very sick" and he is praying for him and would like the faithful to as well. Benedict is 95. His health has been steadily deteriorating.
"I would like to ask all of you to pray a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict," Francis said at the end of his general audience, speaking in Italian.
He called on people to "remember him, because he is very sick, asking the Lord to console and support him."
Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni told CBS News Wednesday, "In the last few hours, there has been an aggravation" in Benedict's condition "due to advancing age. The situation at the moment remains under control" and Benedict is being "followed constantly by the doctors."
Bruni added that Francis went to see Benedict at the end of his general audience.
Benedict, who in 2013 became the first pontiff to resign in six centuries, has withdrawn almost entirely from public view.
The last time he was seen in public was last month.
The few photographs that have emerged of him have shown him to be in increasingly frail health.
Back in 2013, he cited his declining physical and mental health in his decision to become the first pope since 1415 to give up the job as head of the worldwide Catholic Church.
The German pope emeritus, whose real name is Joseph Ratzinger, has been living a quiet life in a former convent inside the Vatican.
His resignation created an unprecedented situation in which two popes — Benedict and Francis — have co-existed within the walls of the tiny city state.
In April, Benedict's long-time secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, told Vatican News the ex-pope was "physically relatively weak and fragile" but "in good spirits."
CBS News' Anna Matranga contributed reporting.
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