The new Netflix series The Two Popes is a look at the time Pope Benedict XVI stepped down and a conversation that he and the future Pope Francis had behind Vatican walls before it all happened. But where is Pope Benedict today? Read on for more details.
He Resigned in 2013 Due to an Age-Related Health Decline
For years after his unexpected resignation, Pope Benedict live in silence in the Vatican. Today, at 92, he speaks out more openly and sometimes it creates some controversy. At the time of his resignation in 2013, Pope Benedict said that he was resigning because old age was causing his health to decline.
You can read the full statement that Pope Benedict issued about his resignation here. He wrote, in part:
After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005…”
He had a pacemaker whose battery had been replaced, but a Vatican spokesman said he wasn’t suffering any specific ailments at the time. At the time he said he would stay “hidden from the world,” but he still made statements, lived in the Vatican, met with cardinals, and spoke from time to time, Vanity Fair shared. According to CNN, though, until April 2019 he rarely left his monastery.
In February 2018 He Said His Health Was Declining
In February 2018, Benedict wrote a letter in an Italian newspaper saying his health was declining, New York Daily News shared. He said he was ready for his “final pilgrimage.” He wrote, in part: “I can only say that with the slow withering of my physical forces, interiorly, I am on a pilgrimage towards home.”
People with the Pope said he needed help getting around but was still mentally aware. Around that same time, Benedict’s brother Georg told a German magazine that Benedict had some kind of “paralyzing illness” that required using a wheelchair. He said he was worried about his brother, Rome Reports shared. But Benedict’s people said he had mobility issues but did not have any kind of neurological illness or paralyzing disease.
In 2019, He Seems To Be Doing Well & Is Traveling, Interviewing, & Writing Essays
Today, he seems to be doing well. He is in Rome serving as the Emeritus Pope, Irish Examiner reported. In April 2019, he released a 6,000-word essay about the Church and the sexual abuse scandal. You can read the full essay on CNA here. With that letter, he returned to the public spotlight, The New York Times shared. Some said it was an “undercutting” of Pope Francis, since the views that the Emeritus Pope shared in his essay were vastly different from the views of Pope Francis.
He wrote the essay in German by hand, starting out with three to four pages over 10 days and then adding more points over the course of weeks, America Magazine shared. His secretary then wrote it on a computer and he reviewed the essay, edited it, and approved it.
According to CNN, Benedict is a bit frail today at the age of 92, but he’s in good health overall.
In June 2019, Benedict sat down for an interview and affirmed that Francis was indeed the only Pope, America Magazine shared. The reporter who interviewed him said that he spoke in a whisper but was also lucid and quick-thinking.
Also in June 2019, rumors emerged claiming Benedict had a stroke, but the director of the Press Office of the Holy See said those rumors were false and he only had “mild ischemia,” the Catholic Herald reported.
Then in July 2019, Benedict left the Vatican to visit Castel Gandolfo, a summer villa, FSSPX reported. He stayed there praying for a couple of hours and then went to the Rocca di Papa region. Next he visited the archbishop’s palace in Frascati. It was his first trip outside the Vatican in four years.
Benedict appeared in good health, smiling and waving.
Then in October 2019, 13 new cardinals visited Benedict and Francis. Benedict asked the cardinals to remain faithful to Pope Francis, Rome Reports shared.