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Pope Francis calls for special prayers for "very sick" ex-pope Benedict

People look postcards showing Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in Rome, near the Vatican

People look postcards showing Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in Rome, near the Vatican

Pope Francis said Wednesday that former Pope Benedict is “very sick.”

Speaking during his general audience, the pope asked for special prayers for Benedict.

“I can confirm that in the last few hours there has been a deterioration due to advancing age,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement. “The situation at the moment remains under control, monitored continually by doctors.”

The Vatican said also Pope Francis went to see Benedict. The 95-year-old Benedict resigned in 2013, citing among other things his declining physical and mental health, becoming the first pope to do so in 600 years. Since then, he has been living in a convent on the Vatican grounds.

In the few photographs that have emerged, Benedict has appeared frail.

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