Former Pope Benedict is recovering from a “painful but not serious condition,” the Vatican has said, following reports in a German newspaper claiming he was very ill with shingles.
“The health condition of the Pope Emeritus is not cause for particular concern, except for the fact that he is 93 years old and recovering from the acute phase of a painful but not serious condition,” the Vatican press office said, citing Benedict’s private secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, in a statement to CNN.
German newspaper Passauer Neue Presse quoted Benedict’s biographer, Munich author Peter Seewald, who said he saw the former Pope on Saturday.
Seewald said Benedict was “extremely frail,” adding that his voice was “barely audible.” He did say, however, that the Pope Emeritus “appeared optimistic” and said he intended to start writing again when he regained his strength.
Benedict’s 96-year-old brother, Georg Ratzinger, died in July in Regensburg, Germany, where he lived most of his life, according to Vatican News.
Benedict had visited him days before his death.
Benedict retired in 2013, vowing to remain “hidden from the world” after becoming the first pope in centuries to resign. At the time, he cited his “advanced age” as the reason.