Giacomo Galeazzi vatican city
Concern has spread about Ratzinger's apparently rapidly deteriorating health. “Benedict XVI is not suffering from any specific chronic illness; his health problems are purely to do with old age,” the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi stressed. His statement, released to Catholic news agency Aci Prensa, came in response to rumours that have been circulating in the Spanish press about the Pope Emeritus suffering a serious illness. In recent pictures Ratzinger appears visibly thinner and physically weaker.
According to information from within the Curia, Pope Francis was apparently also told about his predecessor's health conditions, by Georg Gaenswein, who reassured him. Benedict's increased general fragility is apparently not due to any specific illnesses, recent routine medical check ups confirm. Physical and nervous deterioration are normal consequences of the stressful period that ensued Ratzinger's resignation as Pope. He does not need to be hospitalised for the time being and as scheduled, the former Pope is to return to the Vatican next month, to enter the monastery that has been prepared for him, in the Vatican gardens.
Spanish journalist Paloma Gomez Borrer, the Pope Emeritus' health has allegedly deteriorated significantly in this recent period. Meanwhile, Francis continues to show great consideration for his predecessor as he prepares to make changes to the Church's leadership. He is considering a number of candidates for the position of Secretary of State, but it is likely he will choose an Italian. Cardinal Fernando Filoni was Benedict XVI's favourite for this role, although he was always fervently opposed to Bertone's substitution during the Vatileaks storm. Ratzinger had apparently considered the current prefect of the all-powerful Propaganda Fide dicastery and previously (from June 2007 to May 2011) substitute for General Affairs in the Secretariat of State, as a possible candidate for the position of Secretary of State.The Pope Emeritus expressed this preference during his historic meeting with the new Pope on Saturday 23 March at the papal residence at Castel Gandolfo. Filoni, 67, has frontline international experience in very difficult situations given the role he held as Apostolic Nuncio to Iraq during the Iraq war and then as Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines. Time will tell whether Bergoglio will take his predecessor's choice into account. As photographs attest, Benedict XVI handed a hefty pack of documents and two sealed envelopes to Francis which were clearly to do with his papal ministry.
Bergoglio himself wanted the pictures of the box on the table to be taken: a symbol of the handover of the Church's leadership from one Pope to another. Ratzinger's word means a great deal to Francis. And he is naturally also concerned about his predecessor's health.