Vatican: Benedict in stable condition, attended Mass
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was in stable condition on Friday after suffering deteriorating health and attended a private Mass in his room, the Vatican said, as the faithful in Rome honored “this final part of his pilgrimage.” .
The Vatican provided a new medical report on Friday afternoon indicating that Benedict XVI was able to rest well for a second night.
“He also participated in the celebration of Holy Mass in his room yesterday afternoon,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement. “At present, his condition is stable. »
On Wednesday, Pope Francis revealed his 95-year-old predecessor was “very ill” and visited him at his home in the Vatican Gardens. Francis called for prayers for Benedict, which resulted in an outpouring of messages of solidarity from rank-and-file Catholics and cardinals.
In 2013, Benedict XVI became the first pope in 600 years to step down, saying he no longer had the strength in body or mind to lead the Catholic Church which then had 1.2 billion members. His resignation paved the way for the election of Francis.
Benedict, who for decades as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger served the Vatican as a doctrinal guardian, chose to live out his retirement in seclusion in a converted monastery on the grounds of Vatican City.
The German-born clergyman was cared for by a team of doctors and his long-time papal family: his secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, and a few consecrated women who help run the household.
On Friday evening, the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, celebrated a special Mass for Benedict in the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano. The monumental basilica was Benedict’s cathedral in his capacity as bishop of Rome when he was pontiff.
The cardinal hailed the qualities of Benedict XVI, saying he “always showed great confidence in Providence.”
“As a priest, theologian, bishop, pope, he expressed both the strength and the sweetness of faith, the essentials and the simplicity of one who knows that when we dream with God, dreams become reality. De Donatis said in his homily.
Referring to Benedict XVI’s nearly 10-year retirement from the papacy, De Donatis said the pope emeritus “even in old age and in illness continues to support humanity by offering himself totally.”
The pope emeritus was “in deep communion with Pope Francis”, the cardinal said.
Some critics of Francis or his predecessor have sought to portray the relationship between retired and reigning pontiffs as a kind of rivalry, but De Donatis’ words seemed aimed at dispelling such a perception.
The last words of the homily sounded almost like a funeral ode.
“When He wills, God will approach this brother of ours in the sleep of death and say to him: ‘Joseph, arise, Joseph, arise.’
“And it will be Christ and his mother to take him with them and lead him to paradise, where the dream of a lifetime will be because the reality of eternity,” the cardinal concluded.
During the mass, one of the faithful read aloud a prayer asking God to “sustain and console him with his presence in this last part of his pilgrimage”.
Benedict has indicated that when he dies he would like to be buried in the crypt in the grotto below St. Peter’s Basilica formerly occupied by the tomb of St. John Paul II, which was moved upstairs in the main basilica these last years.
At the end of the Mass, De Donatis said that the faithful entrust “our pope emeritus Benedict XVI to the maternal care” of the mother of Jesus, “because she promised to be close to her children at the time of the test”.