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Inside the VaticanDecember 30, 2022
Retired Pope Benedict XVI embraces Pope Francis during the canonization ceremony of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II in St Peter's Square at the Vatican April 27, 2014. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

In a surprise statement at the end of his public audience on Dec. 28, Pope Francis appealed for “a special prayer” for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI because, he said, “he is very sick.” Just after the audience, Francis went to visit Benedict at his residence in the Vatican.

On “Inside the Vatican” this week, veteran Vatican correspondent Gerard O’Connell and host Colleen Dulle give an update on the former pope’s health. According to a Vatican spokesman, by the time of the podcast’s release, his condition had stabilized somewhat overnight but remained serious.

[Listen and subscribe to Inside the Vatican onApple Podcasts andSpotify.]

The rest of the podcast looks at three of Pope Francis’ Christmas messages: His homily for Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, his Christmas Day Urbi et Orbi message, and his pre-Christmas address to the Roman Curia.

Gerry first gives an inside look at Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter’s Square where, he said, the crowds had nearly returned to their pre-Covid size. Colleen and Gerry unpack the pope’s homily, which focused on the image of Jesus’ manger and urged those present, including foreign dignitaries, to do “something good” this Christmas.

On Christmas Day, the pope used his Urbi et Orbi address to draw attention to places of suffering in the world through the eyes of children. “May the Lord inspire us to offer concrete gestures of solidarity to assist all those who are suffering,” he said. “Tragically, we prefer to heed other counsels, dictated by worldly ways of thinking. Yet who is listening to the voice of the Child?”

Finally, in his annual address to the Roman Curia, Pope Francis continued the theme of his addresses in past years, using insights from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola to call those who work in the Vatican’s central offices to conversion.

Links from the show:

Pope Francis asks for special prayer for ‘very ill’ Benedict XVI

Vatican update: Benedict XVI is ‘lucid and alert,’ but condition remains serious

Pope Francis: Rediscover the meaning of Christmas in the manger

Listen to the cries of the newborn Prince of Peace, pope says on Christmas

Pope Francis compares Roman Curia to the Prodigal Son’s ‘elder brother’ in annual address

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