Ex-Pope Benedict seriously ill with shingles seven years after retiring from Vatican

Former Pope Benedict is seriously ill after returning to the Vatican following a visit to Germany to see his dying brother.

The retired pope, 93, is suffering from shingles and has become so weak that he cannot raise his voice, according to his German biographer.

Benedict’s ‘mind and memory are active but his voice is barely audible at the moment,’ author Peter Seewald told newspaper Passauer Neue Presse.

At a meeting with Seewald on Saturday, German-born Benedict was said to appear optimistic and has said he might pick up writing again if he regains his strength.

But his condition has since ‘become extremely fragile’, the newspaper reported.

Benedict had been in his native Bavaria in June to pay his dying brother Georg Ratzinger a final visit.

Ratzinger, aged 96, died shortly afterwards.

Pope Benedict, whose original name is Joseph Ratzinger, now lives in a small former monastery inside the Vatican.

It was Benedict’s first trip outside Italy since 2013, the year he resigned the papacy, citing a “lack of strength of mind and body”connected to his old age.

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