Vatican says ex-pope Benedict remains stable

Pope Emeritus celebrates Mass in his room amid grave health fears

A camera crew reports from St Peter's Square after the Vatican announced Benedict's health was declining. Reuters
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The Vatican said on Friday that former pope Benedict XVI was in a stable condition, two days after grave concerns over his health were revealed.

Benedict, 95, celebrated Mass in his room on Vatican grounds on Thursday and had a peaceful night, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said.

“At the moment, his condition is stable,” he said.

Benedict has resided in a former monastery at the Vatican since he resigned the papacy in 2013, becoming the first pope emeritus for almost 600 years.

His successor Pope Francis said on Wednesday that Benedict was “very sick” and asked worshippers to pray for him “until the end”.

The Vatican separately announced that his health was worsening, saying on Thursday that he was still lucid and stable, but that his condition was serious.

Benedict, centre, has resided on Vatican grounds since retiring from the papacy in 2013. Reuters

The vicar of Rome, Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, was to celebrate a special Mass dedicated to Benedict later on Friday.

It will take place at the Basilica of St John Lateran, technically a papal seat in the pontiff's capacity as bishop of Rome, but in practice, it is overseen by the cardinal vicar.

An opening prayer will ask for comfort for Benedict in “this last stretch of his pilgrimage”, according to a liturgical booklet.

Benedict, born Joseph Ratzinger in Germany, cited health reasons for his shocking resignation almost a decade ago.

Updated: February 03, 2023, 2:57 AM