ROME – Archbishop Georg Gänswein, the personal secretary of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, has rejected reports that the former pontiff is nearing death.
Rumors of Benedict XVI being close to death circulated on social media following a quote attributed to Gänswein, which reads, “Pope Benedict is like a candle that fades slowly. He is serene, at peace with God, with himself and the world. He can no longer walk without help and can no longer celebrate Mass.”
However, Gänswein called this quote “pure invention.”
“It is false and wrong! I would like to know who the author of this is,” he said, according to German media outlet kath.net.
“I have received in the last two days many messages that refer to this phrase, and people are worried,” he said.
Last week, Ratzinger’s brother Georg, who is 93, was at the Vatican to visit, and he has now returned home, Gänswein confirmed, adding, “Both had a good time.”
Benedict celebrated his 90th birthday in April by sharing beer and pretzels with family and friends in a low-key ceremony in the Vatican Gardens. During the celebration, he said that although he’s lived “difficult moments,” God has always guided him.
“My heart is full of gratitude for the 90 years that the good God has gifted me,” Benedict said. “There were trials and difficult moments, but He has always guided me and pulled me out, so that I could continue on my path.”
Karl Steininger, who was at the birthday party, told Vatican Radio at the time that Benedict “physically looks a bit frail, but his eyes sparkle on. When he asked us anything, he was fully there.”
Crux staff contributed to this report.