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The former pontiff Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at age 95 has taken ill according to Wednesday reports from the Vatican.

In 2013 Benedict became the first pope to willingly step down from the throne of St. Peter in approximately 600 years creating the unique situation of there simultaneously being two living popes, the first a very conservative and traditional, and his successor Pope Francis, a left-leaning progressive.

Pope Francis, told Catholics the world over Wednesday that the Vatican is asking their prayers for the retired vicar of Christ, explaining that he is “very sick,” according to Reuters.

In a later statement, Vatican authorities confirmed that Benedict had taken a sudden turn for the worse in the last 24 hours. The Director of the Holy Sea Press Office, Matteo Bruni, stated that the former pope’s condition was “under control” but he did add that Benedict is receiving constant medical attention. However, Bruni did confirm that the 95-year-old was taking a turn in the last day: “In the last few hours there has been an aggravation of his health due to advancing age.”

“I would like to ask all of you for a special prayer for Pope-emeritus Benedict, who, in silence, is sustaining the church,” Francis told surprised adherents during his weekly general audience.

“Let us remember him. He is very sick, asking the Lord to console and sustain him in this witness of love for the church, until the end,” Francis added in Italian.

The announcement was followed by a tweet from the Pope’s account @Pontifex.

Benedict, formerly known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was head of the influential Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, since redesignated as the Vatican doctrinal office, for almost 25 years under Pope John Paul II before he rose to become the first German Pope in over a millennium.

Conservative Catholic commentator Michael Knowles said of Benedict via Twitter, “Pope Benedict XVI is responsible for permitting, after decades of suppression, the Traditional Latin Mass, which is in turn responsible for the conversion and reversion of countless young Catholics. For that act alone the man is a giant.”

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Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York said in a statement,

“With great faith in God’s goodness, I join with Pope Francis in praying for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and ask the Catholic faithful of the Archdiocese of New York, and all people of good will go do the same.”