Benedict, 93, is suffering from erysipelas of the face, a virus that causes a rash and episodes of severe pain, according to the former pontiff’s biographer, Peter Seewald.
Seewald said that the Pope emeritus is now extremely frail: “His thinking and his memory are quick, but his voice is hardly audible at the moment.”
The author went on to say that Benedict’s voice was barely audible – echoing something other visitors have said for months – and that the former pope told him he might pick up writing again if he regains his strength. In June, Benedict, who lives in a former convent in the Vatican gardens, left Italy for the first time since his resignation in 2013 for an emotional farewell visit to his older brother Georg in their native Bavaria.
He told a gathering of cardinals that he was too old and frail to lead an institution with more than 1.3 billion members. He has largely stayed out of the public eye since he became the first Pope in 600 years to resign, citing his health reasons.
A traditionalist in the Catholic Church, he was replaced by the reformist Pope Francis.
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