A woman prays in front a picture of Benedict XVI in St. Oswald Church in his birthplace of Marktl, Germany A woman prays in front a picture of Benedict XVI in St. Oswald Church in his birthplace of Marktl, Germany 

Outpouring of prayers for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

People around the globe are praying for Benedict XVI at the invitation of Pope Francis.

By Devin Watkins

Prayers for the health of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI are pouring in from across the world.

Pope Francis announced on Wednesday that his 95-year-old predecessor has been suffering recently from ill health.

“I would like to ask you all for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict, who in silence is supporting the Church. Remember him - he is very ill - asking the Lord to console him, and sustain him in this witness of love for the Church, until the end.”

On Thursday, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, said the Pope Emeritus was able to rest well overnight.

“He is absolutely lucid and alert. Today, although his condition remains serious, the situation remains stable at the moment,” he said. “Pope Francis renews his invitation to pray for him and accompany him in these difficult hours.”

Silent prayer for a silent witness

Christians, as well as non-Christians, have responded in droves to Pope Francis’ request for prayers for the German-born Pope Emeritus.

Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, tweeted his spiritual support and urged everyone to ask “for the Lord’s grace to help sustain Pope Benedict as he has sustained the Church through his silent witness.”

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, issued a similar statement and invitation, expressing “great faith in God’s goodness.”

The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, added his voice, praying that God might “sustain and console him at this time.”

Ukrainian closeness

Catholics in Ukraine also joined in the spiritual chorus for the Pope Emeritus, after Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk urged the Synod and all the faithful of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church to pray.

“The whole Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church wants to unite in prayer around this great witness of our times, thanking him for his silent witness as Pope Emeritus and at the same time remembering and seeking to put into practice his work for the unity of the Church, which was an extraordinary feature of his pontificate.”

Major Archbishop Shevchuk met recently with Benedict at his residence in the Vatican’s Mater Ecclesiae Monastery on 10 November. He later recounted that the Pope Emeritus was “incredibly lucid, informed and solicitous about the situation in Ukraine, and had assured his prayers for the Ukrainian people.”

Intercession for a man of prayer

The Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Community of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, also tweeted his prayerful support for Benedict.

"Concerned about the news about the health of Pope Emeritus Benedict, I join in prayers that he may overcome the ordeal and recover soon," he said.

The president of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, urged Italians to “gather around the Pope Emeritus” in prayer at this trying time, recalling Benedict’s own description of his mission following his resignation from the papacy.

“His remaining ‘in a new way with the Crucified Lord,’ continuing to ‘accompany the path of the Church with prayer and reflection’ constitutes a strong message for the ecclesial community and the whole society.”

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29 December 2022, 12:30