Hannah Brockhaus
Catholic News Agency

The Vatican confirmed Wednesday that pope emeritus Benedict XVI has experienced a sudden decline in his health, but is stable and under medical care.

“I can confirm that in the last few hours there has been a worsening due to advancing age. The situation at the moment remains under control, constantly followed by doctors,” Holy See Press Office director, Matteo Bruni, told journalists Dec. 28.

Bruni added that Pope Francis went to visit the 95-year-old pope emeritus where he lives, in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican, after his general audience on Wednesday morning.

At the end of his weekly public audience, Pope Francis had asked for prayers for Benedict XVI’s health.

“I ask to all of you a special prayer for the pope emeritus Benedict, who, in silence, is sustaining the Church,” he said.

“Remember him — he is very ill — asking the Lord to console him and to sustain him in this testimony of love for the Church until the end.”

In its statement, the Vatican said it joins Pope Francis “in praying for the pope emeritus.”

Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Nov. 9, Rome’s Secretariat of the Major Archbishop of the Greek Catholic Church. (Catholic News Agency/Getty Images)