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Former Pope Benedict XVI Is ‘Very Ill,’ Pope Francis Says

Benedict was the first Pope to retire in six centuries

On Wednesday, Pope Francis asked those present at his weekly audience to pray for the retired Pope Benedict XVI, who Francis said was "very ill." In their prayers, Francis said, people should ask God to console Benedict and “support him in this witness of love to the church, until the end.

Matteo Bruni, a Vatican spokesman, said in a statement that, after the audience, Francis had visited Benedict, 95, at the monastery on Vatican City grounds where Benedict has lived since announcing his resignation in February 2013. Benedict was the first pope in six centuries to step down. Increasingly frail, he has rarely made public appearances in recent years.

Bruni said that Benedict's health had "deteriorated in recent hours due to advancing age." The situation, he added, was "under control at the moment, and was constantly monitored by doctors."

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