International News

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s ‘Illness Is Subsiding’ Says Secretary Archbishop Gänswein

Retired Pope Benedict XVI, pictured in a 2013 file photo. (Photo: CNS/Paul Haring)

WINDSOR TERRACE — The personal secretary of retired Pope Benedict XVI has said that the pope emeritus’ illness is ‘subsiding.’

In an Aug.9 published interview with the German newspaper Südkurier, Archbishop Gänswein also said that the pope emeritus’ medication has been reduced.  Aides to the retired pontiff told journalists that Benedict’s infection is an “inflammation of the trigeminal nerve,” meaning he has what Americans would refer to as shingles, a bacterial infection of the skin that causes a painful, red rash. According to the Mayo Clinic in the United States, experts estimate “that half the people age 80 and older will have shingles” at some point.

“The pain started after the death of his brother,” Archbishop Gänswein told the German newspaper. Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, a musician and elder brother of the retired pontiff, died July 1.

“Whilst very unpleasant and painful, the illness was not life-threatening,” Archbishop Gänswein said in the article published Aug. 9. “This is a pain I do not wish for my worst enemy.”

The pope emeritus’ personal secretary gave the interview with German media while visiting his hometown of Rieder am Wald in the Black Forest.

That interview comes on the tail of papal biographer Peter Seewald telling the Bavarian newspaper Passauer Neue Presse that the 93-year-old retired pope is “extremely frail” and saying that while he is mentally sharp, his voice is barely audible. Seewald has a long and close relationship with the retired pope and saw him in his Vatican home in the Mater Ecclesia monastery on Aug. 1, where he presented a copy of his latest biography that he wrote of him.

The Vatican made a public statement on the pope emeritus’ condition, confirming his sickness, but insisting that his condition is normal for someone his age.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni confirmed that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is ill, telling journalists Aug. 3 that according to reports from Archbishop Gänswein, “the health conditions of the pope emeritus are not of particular concern, except for those of a 93-year-old who is going through the most acute phase of a painful, but not serious, illness.

Related: Vatican Confirms Pope Benedict Is Ill, But Says Condition ‘Not Serious’

2 thoughts on “Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s ‘Illness Is Subsiding’ Says Secretary Archbishop Gänswein