Pope Benedict XVI is ‘Very Frail’ and Has Been Sick Since His Visit to Germany
German journalist said despite his illness, Pope Benedict was optimistic and stated he might take up writing again if his strength returns.
ROME — Pope emeritus Benedict XVI is sick with a bacterial infection and “very frail,” according to a German newspaper report.
Citing Pope Benedict's biographer Peter Seewald, German newspaper Passauer Neue Presse (PNP) reported Aug. 3 that the 93-year-old pope emeritus is suffering from facial erysipelas, a bacterial infection of the skin which causes a painful, red rash.
The infection can also result in fever, headaches, and lymphedema. It is treated with antibiotics.
Seewald told PNP that Pope Benedict has been “very frail” since his return from visiting his ailing older brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, in Bavaria in June. Georg Ratzinger died July 1.
Seewald saw Pope Benedict XVI at his Vatican home in the Mater Ecclesia monastery Aug. 1 to present him with a copy of his latest biography of the retired pope.
The journalist said despite his illness, Pope Benedict was optimistic and stated he might take up writing again if his strength returns. Seewald also said the former pope’s voice is now “barely audible.”
PNP also reported Aug. 3 that Pope Benedict has chosen to be buried in the former tomb of St. John Paul II in the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica. The body of the Polish pope was moved into the upper part of the basilica when he was canonized in 2014.
Like John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI has written a spiritual testament which can be published after his death.
Pope Benedict XVI resigned from the papacy in 2013, citing advanced age and declining strength that made it difficult to carry out his ministry. He was the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years.
In a letter published in an Italian newspaper in February 2018, Pope Benedict said, “I can only say that at the end of a slow decline in physical strength, inwardly I am on pilgrimage home.”