Rome and London — A Vatican official said Thursday that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s health had deteriorated within hours, a day after news broke that he was “fully lucid and alert.”
“Although his condition is critical, the situation is currently stable,” Holy See press office director Matteo Bruni told reporters.
The Vatican has renewed an invitation from the current pope to pray for the former pope.
On Wednesday, Bruni said, “The current situation is under control and is being followed up by doctors,” adding that “in the last few hours we can confirm that his condition has worsened due to age.”
The comments came after Pope Francis asked for prayers for the 95-year-old Benedict in his morning audience.
“In silence, I ask all of you for a special prayer for Pope Emeritus Benedict, who is bearing the Church,” the Pope said.
Francis later met his predecessor, who resigned in 2013, at the Mater Ecclesia monastery, Bruni said Wednesday.
“We pray with him for the Pope Emeritus,” Bruni said.
The Vatican issued the last Video footage Benedict was accompanied by new cardinals as part of a tradition since Francis became pope in August.
Benedict’s condition reportedly worsened in the days leading up to Christmas, according to Italian news agency ANSA, which cited “credible sources”. ANSA reported that Benedict began suffering from “respiratory problems” in the days leading up to the holiday.
Benedict spent Christmas at the former Mater Ecclesia monastery in the Vatican, where a Christmas Mass was celebrated for him in the small chapel at his home, ANSA reported.
ABC News’ Joe Simonetti contributed to this report.