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Pope Francis has said that his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI is “very sick”.

He then asked for prayers for the 95-year-old German, who led the Catholic world between 19th April 2005 and 28th February 2013.

“I want to ask you all for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict who sustains the Church in his silence. He is very sick”, Pope Francis said during his general audience at the Vatican on Wednesday.

“We ask the Lord to console and sustain him in this witness of love for the Church to the very end”.

Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world by making the almost unprecedented decision to resign from his position in 2013, citing “advanced age.”

His announcement marked the first time a Pope had stepped down in nearly 600 years.

The last Pope to resign before his death was Gregory XII, who in 1415 quit to end a civil war within the Catholic Church in which more than one man claimed to be pope.