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Close friend seeks to allay fears over Benedict XVI’s health

By on Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Benedict XVI (PA)

Benedict XVI (PA)

One of Benedict XVI’s closest confidants has played down concerns about the former pontiff’s health.

After meeting the retired pope in Rome in early June, Salvatorian Father Stephan Otto Horn, president of the Ratzinger Student Circle, admitted his mentor was frail, but added: “He is 86 now. At that age you are not so strong, but he seemed to me to be very fresh. His memory is fresh and his eyes are very bright and joyous”.

Speaking at the Divine Word Missionaries school in Maynooth, Ireland, during a symposium on the theology of Joseph Ratzinger, Father Horn added: “After his resignation it was difficult for him for three weeks, but after those three weeks, his well-being began improving. And he is very interested in everything.”

Father Horn, who is regular contact with the Pope Emeritus was an academic assistant to then-Father Joseph Ratzinger from 1971 to 1977 at Germany’s University of Regensburg. Their discussions earlier this month were about this year’s Ratzinger Student Circle meeting, scheduled to take place in Castel Gandolfo, the Pope’s summer residency, from August 29 to September 2.

The circle of the former pope’s students has met since 1978 to discuss topics in theology and the life of the Church.

Although Benedict XVI confirmed to Father Horn that he will not attend the meeting of his former students and the young theologians of the Junior Ratzinger Student Circle, the Pope Emeritus chose the speaker, French historian Remi Brague, and the topic to be discussed, The Question of God Against the Background of Secularisation.

“When I was with him, I asked him if it would be possible for him to attend, perhaps even for part of it. But he said he will stay at his convent and will not go to Castel Gandolfo,” Father Horn said.

Father Horn also revealed that Pope Benedict said Pope Francis had been trying to convince him to go to Castel Gandolfo for a vacation, while he was trying to convince Pope Francis to take a vacation there. “(Benedict XVI) said he had told Pope Francis that if he (Francis) couldn’t go there for a long time, then he should at least go there for the feast of the Assumption on August 15, which the Pope traditionally spends with the people of Castel Gandolfo,” he said

  • Sara_TMS_again

    Benedict is wise not to go to the Circle- his friend is less wise to say anything at all about Benedict’s views on what Francis should or should not do.

  • Jean Mercier

    I agree fully. This sort of piece of news is altogether a blessing and a curse.

  • scary goat

    At least he is well :-)

  • Gemma L Rivera

    The curious thing is there is a sentence from original news feed that was omitted. “Father Horn also told CNS that Pope Benedict said Pope Francis had been trying to convince him to go to Castel Gandolfo for a vacation, while he was trying to convince Pope Francis to take a vacation there”.

  • An onlooker

    A very curious thing to omit, it changes the complexion of the reported exchange completely. Why would someone reporting in a Catholic newspaper do this?

  • The Catholic Herald

    Thanks for raising this – we have updated the story to include the original CNS wording

  • Karen

    WE LOVE BENEDICT XVI! We pray for him every day; that he will feel God’s presence in a vey special way and that he will feel how much millions of people love him.

    Naturally, we wish him a blessed old age.

    THANK YOU POPE BENEDICT for your ivaluable work for the church. There was never, ever, the slightest wondering with you on the seat of Peter. We just knew that from you would only and exclusively come what was right, beautiful and wise.

    As well as during al the years as Joseph Ratzinger…

  • Sara_TMS_again

    Thanks- that does change it!

  • NatOns

    Again, and as ever, God Bless Our Pope! the reigning Sovereign Pontiff and his Emeritus.

  • An onlooker

    Well spotted Gemma L Rivera!!

  • Lisa

    The only important piece of information in this report is that our beloved pope Emeratus is well. Thanks be to God.

  • paulpriest

    Is it disobedience to the Holy Spirit to say “I want our Pope back!” ?

  • Isabel

    Oh, how I wish that pope Benedict could have attended the concert which was snubbed(?) by pope Francis. Benedict would have been able to appreciate the beauty and greatness in Beethoven’s music. But he would not have wished to attract any attention to himself. True humility does not need ostentatious, outer signs.

  • Lyly Bruehl

    Mama mia! Please, please let it go! You are not doing anyone any good by constanly displayed your disastisfaction toward Pope Francis on this issue. Close this chapter already. Where is the love in you heart? our Lord love all of us even Judas who betrayed him… Hope you got the point.