Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI greets Colombian Cardinal Jorge Enrique Jiménez Carvajal at the retired pope’s Vatican residence on Aug. 27, 2022. / Screenshot from EWTN video

Vatican City, Dec 28, 2022 / 06:30 am (CNA).

The Vatican’s news service posted a prayer for the health of Benedict XVI on Wednesday, after Pope Francis asked Catholics to pray for the “very ill” pope emeritus.

At the end of his weekly public audience on Dec. 28, Pope Francis said: “I ask to all of you a special prayer for the pope emeritus Benedict, who, in silence, is sustaining the Church.”

“Remember him — he is very ill — asking the Lord to console him and to sustain him in this testimony of love for the Church until the end.”

Shortly afterward, the Vatican’s spokesperson, Matteo Bruni, confirmed that the 95-year-old Benedict XVI’s health had worsened “in recent hours.”

“The situation at the moment remains under control, constantly followed by doctors,” Bruni said, noting that Pope Francis had gone to visit Benedict at his home in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery on Vatican grounds.

Below is the text of the prayer shared by Vatican News on Facebook:

A prayer for the health of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Let us pray.

Almighty and Eternal God,

You are the everlasting health of

those who believe in You.

Hear our prayers for your sick servant Benedict

for whom we implore the aid of Your tender mercy,

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The president of the Italian bishops’ conference, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, said Wednesday the bishops are praying for Benedict XVI.

“At this time of suffering and trial, we gather around the Pope Emeritus,” the cardinal said in a Dec. 28 statement. “We assure remembrance in prayer in our churches, in the knowledge, as he himself had reminded us, that ‘no matter how hard the trials, difficult the problems, heavy the suffering, we will never fall out of the hands of God, those hands that created us, sustain us and accompany us on the journey of existence, because they are guided by an infinite and faithful love.’”