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Pope Benedict’s ‘great affinity’ with Queen as health update issued

Pope Benedict XVI marks Battle of Britain anniversary in 2010

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The head of the Catholic church in Britain, Cardinal Vincent Nichols has said Pope Benedict XVI would be remembered as “one of the great theologians of the 20th century” as an update on his health was issued.

Speaking on Times Radio, the Archbishop of Westminster described the “great affinity” between the former pope and the late Queen, quoting that he “admired” the late Queen for continuing royal duties until her death in September 2022.

“When Benedict decided to come to this country [in 2010], he decided that the first thing he had to do was visit the Queen.

“She held her office to the end and I think he admired that very much.”

Cardinal Vincent Nichols spoke of the former Pope’s decision to resign from his post in 2013.

He claimed this was a result of his age and would remain “an exception”.

He said: “This is the first time in 600 years, so who knows what might develop. I think it will remain an exception myself.

It was a measure of his self-understanding and the difficulties he was getting into physically that he said no, it needs somebody else to do this.”

Italian news agency Ansa reported this morning that there had been no changes to the former Pope’s condition overnight.

The 95-year-old is receiving round-the-clock medical attention at his home, in a monastery in the Vatican grounds.

Vatican struck by lightning after Pope Benedict resigns in 2013

Speaking on Wednesday, Pope Francis said the former Pope was “very sick” and asked for prayers for his predecessor.

Italian media reported the 95-year-old had begun to suffer respiratory problems just before Christmas.

One report even suggested he was on a respirator due to his poor health.

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The Vatican spokesman, Matteo Bruni, has so far declined to go into detail on the former Pope’s health problems.

In a statement released after the audience, Bruni said that Benedict’s health “has worsened in the last few hours due to his age”.

He added: “The situation is currently under control and he is being constantly attended to by doctors.”

His retirment in 2013 meant that Benedict became the first pope in 600 years to resign.

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