Pope asks for special prayers for 'very sick' predecessor Benedict XVI

The former head of the Catholic Church is reported to be unwell, ITVX reports

Pope Francis has asked for prayers for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, as he announced his predecessor is “very sick."

He asked the faithful to pray for the retired pontiff so God will comfort him “to the very end.”

Francis didn't elaborate on the condition of Benedict, who resigned as pontiff in February 2013, the first pope to retire in 600 years.

Benedict, 95, lives in a convent on Vatican grounds. He has become increasingly frail in recent years as he dedicates his post-papacy life to prayer and meditation.

“I'd like to ask all of you for a special prayer for Emeritus Pope Benedict, who, in silence, is sustaining the church,'' Francis said in remarks near the end of an hour-long audience. ”I remind you that he is very sick," Francis said.

"Let's ask the Lord to comfort him and sustain him in this testimony of love to the church to the very end,'' Francis said.

It wasn't clear if Francis was speaking about Benedict's health in general or if his predecessor had a particular illness.

A Vatican spokesperson, queried about Benedict’s condition, said the press office was seeking details.

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