Vatican plays down fears for former Pope Benedict's health

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Aug 04 2020 05:05 AM

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican on Monday said former Pope Benedict XVI was not in especially bad health after his biographer told a German newspaper he was "extremely frail".

Pope Emeritus Benedict's health "is no cause for particular concern, especially regarding a 93-year-old person getting over the most acute phase of a painful illness," the Vatican press office said citing his personal secretary Georg Gaensewein.

Citing the former Pope's biographer Peter Seewald, Bavarian newspaper the Passauer Neue Presse reported that Benedict is suffering from erysipelas of the face, a virus that causes a facial rash and episodes of severe pain.

"According to Seewald, the Pope Emeritus is now extremely frail," the report read. "His thinking and his memory are quick, but his voice is hardly audible at the moment."

Seewald reportedly visited Benedict in Rome on Saturday to present him with his biography.

"At the meeting, the Emeritus Pope, despite his illness, was optimistic and declared that if his strength increased again he would possibly take up his pen again," the paper said.

Benedict visited his sick brother Georg in Germany in June, marking his first trip out of Italy since his shock resignation in 2013.

Georg Ratzinger died just two weeks later, aged 96.

The former Pontiff, whose original name is Joseph Ratzinger, now lives in a small former monastery inside the Vatican.

He has largely stayed out of the public eye since he became the first Pope in 600 years to resign, citing health reasons.

A traditionalist in the Catholic Church, he was replaced by the reformist Pope Francis.