Q. I haven’t heard anything in awhile on Pope Benedict XVI. Any word on how he’s doing?
A. Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin:
This past June, a former student of Pope Benedict XVI, and one of the retired pontiff’s closest friends, sought to dismiss rumors of the emeritus pope’s ill health. Father Stephan Horn remarked: “He is 86 now. At that age you are not so strong, but he seemed to me to be very fresh. His memory is fresh, and his eyes are very bright and joyous.” Nevertheless, vision in one eye is poor, and the former pope has often fallen. These are difficulties that beset many older individuals, and the Vatican’s Press Office stresses, “His health problems are purely to do with old age … to say that he has an illness is foolish.”
The former pontiff himself, in his resignation address, referred to his age, and said: “I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.... In today’s world … to govern the barque of St. Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months has deteriorated … to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”