Pope Francis’ urgent appeal to pray for his seriously ill predecessor Benedict XVI has produced a huge international response. The faithful around the world are praying for the Pope Emeritus, as many fear for his life.
Expressions of prayer and solidarity are coming from all corners of the world. Bishops’ conferences in numerous countries have urged people to pray for the gravely ill Benedict XVI. Countless bishops of the universal Church have taken to social media with appeals to pray for the Pope Emeritus. Pictures of the former pontiff have been set up in cathedrals and churches around the world, inviting people to pray.
Diocese of Regensburg
Regensburg Cathedral invites people to pray for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Regensburg is one of the places where Joseph Ratzinger formerly lived and worked.
A time of prayer and grave concern
In this time of prayer and grave concern for the life of Benedict XVI, the high esteem in which the Pope Emeritus is held internationally is once again evident.
The gravely ill former pontiff is under constant medical supervision at Mater Ecclesiae monastery, where he has lived since his resignation from the Petrine Office. At his side is his longtime private secretary, Archbishop George Gänswein.
A statement from the Vatican on Thursday maintained that Benedict was “absolutely lucid and conscious”, and that “while his condition remains grave, the situation is at the moment stable.” Pope Francis has renewed his appeal to pray for Benedict and to accompany him in these difficult hours. A Eucharistic celebration was held for the gravely ill Benedict XVI at 5:30 pm on Friday at the Lateran Basilica in Rome, with Cardinal Angelo de Donatis presiding. The Lateran Basilica is the cathedral church of the Popes.
Like a candle that is slowly fading
Archbishop Georg Gänswein, when asked about the aged Pope Emeritus’ state of health in various interviews over the past several years, often used a particular image, saying that Benedict was like a candle that was slowly fading, his mind still alert as ever, but his body becoming increasingly frail. In particular, he was having more and more difficulty speaking. The news from Rome about Benedict XVI’s worrying state of health and the appeals to prayer from his successor on the Chair of Peter suggest that this candle is now about to go out.
Benedict XVI has expressed on various occasions that he longs for heaven. A letter of condolence for a former professor colleague in 2021 included the passage: “Now he has reached the afterlife, where many friends certainly await him. I hope that I may join them soon.” Asked about this, his private secretary had responded at the time that Benedict was “full of zest for life,” but that he was consciously preparing himself for death: “The art of dying well, that is, ars moriendi, is part of the Christian life. Pope Benedict has been doing that for many years.”
The Tagespost Foundation
This photograph shows Benedict XVI early in the summer of 2022 receiving the printed birthday wishes sent to him via this Internet portal on his 95th birthday. The health of the Pope Emeritus has declined considerably since then.
In a very personal letter released in February following publication of the Munich abuse report, Benedict XVI wrote: “Quite soon, I shall find myself before the final judge of my life. Even though, as I look back on my long life, I can have great reason for fear and trembling, I am nonetheless of good cheer, for I trust firmly that the Lord is not only the just judge, but also the friend and brother who himself has suffered for my shortcomings, and is thus also my advocate, my ‘Paraclete’. In light of the hour of judgement, the grace of being a Christian becomes all the more clear to me. It grants me knowledge, and indeed friendship, with the judge of my life, and thus allows me to pass confidently through the dark door of death. In this regard, I am constantly reminded of what John tells us at the beginning of the Apocalypse: he sees the Son of Man in all his grandeur and falls at his feet as though dead. Yet He, placing his right hand on him, says to him: “Do not be afraid! It is I...” (cf. Rev 1:12-17).”
Prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Let us pray.
Almighty and Eternal God,
You are the everlasting health of
those who believe in You.
Hear our prayers for your sick
for whom we implore the aid
of Your tender mercy,
Through Christ our Lord.
If any more news from Rome is released regarding the health of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, we will post it here on this website. Up-to-date reporting on this developing situation is available from the German Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost at www.die-tagespost.de.