Pope Francis asks for prayers for 'very ill' predecessor Pope Benedict

Pope Francis asks for prayers for 'very ill' predecessor Pope Benedict

POPE FRANCIS has asked the faithful to pray for his predecessor Pope Benedict, who the current Pontiff says is 'very ill'.

Concluding his weekly General Audience this morning, Pope Francis called for a 'special prayer' for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

Now aged 95, Benedict resigned as Pope in February 2013 after almost eight years, citing his advanced age.

The former Cardinal Ratzinger had suffered mild strokes both before and during his papacy, with Benedict himself predicting a 'short reign' upon his election.

"I would like to ask you all for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict, who is supporting the Church in silence," Pope Francis said at the end of today's General Audience.

"Remember him — he is very ill — asking the Lord to console him and to sustain him in this witness of love for the Church, until the end."

Meanwhile, CNBC reports that a Vatican spokesperson later confirmed Benedict's condition had worsened.

"I can confirm that in the last few hours his condition worsened due to age," said Matteo Bruni.

He added that Benedict is being monitored by doctors and that the situation is 'under control'.

Pope Benedict was the oldest person to be elected Pope when he took on the role in 2005.

A month before the end of his tenure, he became the fourth oldest person to hold the office.

He became the first Pope in almost 600 years to resign when he stepped down in 2013.