Pope emeritus knows people who have lost their lives to the virus.
Benedict XVI’s personal secretary spoke with Vatican News about how the 93-year-old pope emeritus is doing. Benedict was able to receive the first dose of the Covid vaccine on January 14.
Archbishop Georg Gänswein, the personal secretary of the pope emeritus, said the pandemic hasn’t changed much about daily life in the Mater Ecclesiae monastery where Benedict lives.
“The daily organization has not changed much,” Archbishop Gänswein said. “The rhythm of the days has remained the same, even if the number of visits has been greatly reduced. Benedict follows the news that reaches us on television and shares our concern about the pandemic, about what is happening in the world, about the many people who are losing their lives to the virus. There have been people he knows who have died from Covid-19.”
As far as the health of the pope emeritus, the archbishop said he is very frail but mentally alert.
“From the physical point of view, he is very frail and can only walk a little with a walker. His voice is also weak. The time devoted to rest has increased, but we continue to go out every afternoon, despite the cold, to the Vatican Gardens. Every day I celebrate Mass and he concelebrates seated… We have prepared enlarged texts for his daily prayer so that he can follow the Liturgy of the Hours better, and we continue to take meals together as we always have.”
Archbishop Gänswein also mentioned how this Christmas was the first without Benedict’s beloved brother Georg, who died in July. Monsignor Ratzinger “made himself felt in some way,” the archbishop reflected, saying that Benedict has “listened several times to CDs, not only to Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, but also to concerts with Christmas carols, performed by the Regensburger Domspatzen, the choir that Georg Ratzinger directed.”
Archbishop Gänswein added: “For Benedict, this absence is a wound that has caused him pain during these holidays, but he also told me that he felt the Lord’s consolation, in the certainty that his brother now lives in His embrace.”