- The Roman Catholic leader has asked the faithful to pray for the retired Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI so God will comfort him
- Pope Francis said his predecessor was very ill but he did not elaborate on the condition of Benedict
- Benedict lives in a convent on Vatican grounds and has become increasingly frail in recent years as he dedicates his post-papacy life to prayer
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Pope Francis has said his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI is "very sick" and asked the faithful to pray for the retired pontiff so God will comfort him "to the very end".
Seeking special prayers
Francis did not elaborate on Benedict's condition as he made the surprise appeal at the end of his general audience.
Benedict became the first pope in some 600 years to resign in 2013, with the former pontiff taking the title of pope emeritus. Since then, he has been living in the Vatican.
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"I'd like to ask all of you for a special prayer for Emeritus Pope Benedict, who, in silence, is sustaining the church," Pope Francis said in his remarks.
"I remind you that he is very sick. Let's ask the Lord to comfort him and sustain him in this testimony of love to the church to the very end."
It was not clear if he was speaking about the 95-year-old's health in general or if his predecessor had some illness.
A Vatican spokesperson, queried about Benedict's condition, said the press office was seeking more details.
Benedict has become increasingly frail in recent years as he dedicates his post-papacy life to prayer and meditation.
Some cardinals and canon lawyers have questioned Benedict's decisions on retirement, including his decision to continue wearing the white cassock of the papacy.
Another point of contention has been Benedict refusing to revert to his birth name Joseph Ratzinger.
Critics say those choices and Benedict's continued presence in the Vatican have been confusing for Catholics and threaten the unity of the Church.
Jesus was born in a manger
The pope on Christmas eve talked to the world as people were celebrating the birth of Christ reminding them that God is close to people, especially during difficult times.
He said as translated by Vatican News
“There is no evil nor sin from which Jesus does not want to save us. And He can. Christmas means that God is close to us: let confidence be reborn! The poverty of the manger shows us where the true riches in life are to be found: not in money and power, but in relationships and persons.”
Pope Francis urged people to remember that Jesus Christ was born in a manger meaning God is not one to choose based on societal class.
Pope Francis Admits Priests, Nuns Watch R-Rated Films: "The Devil Gets in That Way"
Earlier, YEN.com.gh reported that Pope Francis had lifted the lid, admitting that priests and nuns watch lewd adult films on the internet.
While speaking in Rome, the head of the Catholic church noted that the clergy was not left behind in the R-rated vice. In his address to seminarians, Pope Francis, 85, said:
"It is a vice that many people have, many laymen, many laywomen, and also priests and nuns,' said the 85-year-old Pope.
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