Former Pope Benedict, 93, is ‘seriously ill with shingles and his voice is barely audible’ after returning to the Vatican from a visit to see his dying brother in Germany according to his biographer.
Benedict’s ‘mind and memory are active but his voice is barely audible at the moment,’ author Peter Seewald told German newspaper Passauer Neue Presse.
Seewald said Benedict was optimistic when the pair spoke on Saturday, when he said he might pick up writing again if his strength returns.
But his condition has since ‘become extremely fragile’, the newspaper reported.
Benedict came to his native Bavaria in June to pay his ailing brother Georg Ratzinger a final visit.
Georg Ratzinger, aged 96, died on June 29 after suffering a ‘serious illness’ which his church did not name.
It was Benedict’s first trip outside Italy since 2013, the year he resigned the papacy due to health concerns.
Benedict had previously praised his elder brother for being a ‘companion’ and ‘trustworthy guide’ during his life.
The pair had been ordained together on the same day in 1951 after deciding from a young age that they would dedicate their lives to the church.
Georg, who was an organist and choirmaster as well as a priest, confessed that he was ‘disappointed’ after hearing his brother had been made pope in April 2005 because it would mean they would see less of each-other.
Benedict, who until his appointment had been theological enforcer to John Paul II, held the role until 2013, when he became the first to resign the title in 600 years.
Since his resignation he has lived in a small, former monastery inside the Vatican.