Q. Can you provide an update of how Pope Benedict XVI is doing? Is his health good?
A. Here’s a reply from Father Reginald Martin:
A Feb. 25, 2014, report in the Religious News Service relates that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is doing quite well. Although he walks with a cane, his mind appears to be clear and his spirits good. He plays the piano and participated with Pope Francis in dedicating a statue in the Vatican Gardens. Although the former pope said he would spend the rest of his life in seclusion, he attended the Feb. 22 liturgy at which Pope Francis named 16 new cardinals, and Vatican officials expect him to attend the canonization ceremony for his predecessors, Popes John XXIII and John Paul II, later this month.
Many have expressed concern Pope Benedict’s wits may be failing him, but last fall he assembled a comprehensive rebuttal to someone who criticized his writings. The essay was published in one of the leading Italian newspapers.
Others feared the emeritus pope might prove a threat to his successor. These concerns appear groundless, as Pope Francis apparently consults regularly with Pope Emeritus Benedict and has remarked that his presence is “like having a grandfather at home.” For his own part, the former pontiff has told associates that theologically he is very much in the same line with Pope Francis.