Former Pope Benedict XVI, the first pontiff in 600 years to resign instead of ruling for life, is seriously ill, a German newspaper reported on Monday.
The newspaper, Passauer Neue Presse, cited Benedict’s biographer, German author Peter Seewald, who met the 93-year-old emeritus pope at the Vatican on Saturday.
A Vatican spokesperson had no comment on the report and the former pope’s personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, did not immediately return a call asking for comment.
Seewald said Benedict, who has been in frail health for some time, was now suffering from shingles, a viral infection that causes painful rashes and is common among older people.
Seewald said Benedict’s voice is barely audible – echoing something other visitors have said for months – and that the former pope told him he might pick up writing again if he regains his strength.
In June, Benedict, who lives in a former convent in the Vatican gardens, left Italy for the first time since his resignation in 2013 for an emotional farewell visit to his older brother Georg in their native Bavaria.
Georg Ratzinger died on July 1 aged 96. The two brothers were ordained priests on the same day in 1951.
Benedict, who was elected in 2005 to succeed the widely popular Pope John Paul II after a reign of nearly 27 years, shocked the world and even his closest aides on Feb. 11, 2013, when he announced in Latin he was stepping down.
Click on the comment box below and leave us your thoughts. Thank you