During an interview with an Italian Magazine, Pope Benedict’s longtime secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, told them:
“In April, Pope Benedict XVI turns 89 years old. He is like a slowly extinguishing candle even though serenely fading, had maintained his subtle sense of humor. “He’s calm, in peace with God, himself and the world,” Gaenswein said.
Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi following the Archbishop’s interview where he said the Pope Emeritus is serenely fading, issued a statement on March 25 and explained that given his age, a slowdown is completely expected and only natural for the retired pope, but there are no particular concerns or worries regarding his health.
The retired Pope’s personal secretary added that Pope Benedict still retains “his refined, subtle sense of humor” and remains fond of cats.
“Contessa and Zorro, two cats that live in our gardens, come often to say hello to the Pope Emeritus,” he said.
After questions were raised regarding Benedict’s declining strength due to his age and his deteriorating health, Fr Lombardi said his condition “does not raise any particular concerns”.
Lombardi added: “Of course it is part of the effects of old age and a gradual, growing fragility of the physical condition as with any elderly person.” But he stressed that Benedict’s mind is “perfectly lucid.”
During a recent interview with the daily newspaper of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, published on March, the Pope emeritus addressed issues about the need for reconciliation with God, the importance of sharing in Christ’s redeeming love and about the Christian faith. He insisted that, always, “we need God’s Grace and forgiveness.”
“It is mercy that moves us toward God, while justice frightens us before Him,” he said.