Joachim Meisner, the Archbishop of Cologne, was shocked at how Benedict’s state of health had deteriorated, saying he appeared to have physically shrunk.
Cardinal Meisner went to see Benedict on March 18, the day before Pope Francis was inaugurated as his successor.
At the time Benedict was living in Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence outside Rome, having resigned from the Seat of St Peter on February 28.
“I was shocked at how thin he had become,” Cardinal Meisner told the German Catholic News Agency (KNA).
Pope Emeritus Benedict ‘relieved to no longer have the weight of the Church’ on him, brother says
ROME — The former Pontiff, Pope Emeritus Benedict, is “relieved” to be free of the responsibility of running the Catholic Church, his elder brother has said, but he insisted that Benedict was not suffering from illness.
Father Georg Ratzinger, himself a priest, told The Daily Telegraph his younger brother was “very happy” to be living at Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer retreat south of Rome that he moved to after stepping down in February, becoming the first pope to resign in 600 years. Fr. Ratzinger, 88, who travelled from Germany to celebrate Benedict’s 86th birthday on April 16, said his brother “still suffers the problems of the Church, but is really relieved to no longer have the weight of the Church on his shoulders”.
Speaking by telephone from his house in Bavaria, Mr Ratzinger denied the pope emeritus was suffering from major ailments. “He is now very old, he does not have any particular illness, but he is weakening due to his age,” he said.
Pope Benedict cited advancing age when he announced his resignation amid reports that his hearing and sight were failing. It also emerged he had a pacemaker fitted a decade ago.
Peter Seewald, a German journalist said he had never seen Benedict look “so worn down” after a recent meeting.