New Delhi: The former pope Benedict XVI, the first pontiff in 600 years to resign instead of ruling for life, is seriously ill, a German newspaper has reported.
The newspaper, Passauer Neue Presse, cited Benedicts biographer, the German author Peter Seewald, who met the 93-year-old emeritus pope at the Vatican on Saturday.
A Vatican spokesperson said Benedicts condition was not particularly worrying. The former popes personal secretary, the archbishop Georg Gnswein, did not immediately return a call asking for comment.
Seewald said Benedict, who has been in poor health for some time, was suffering from shingles, a viral infection that causes painful rashes and is common among older people.
Seewald said Benedicts voice was barely audible something other visitors have said for months and that the former pope told him he might pick up writing again if he regains his strength.
In June, Benedict, who lives in a former convent in the Vatican gardens, left Italy for the first time since his resignation in 2013 for an emotional farewell visit to his older brother Georg in their native Bavaria.
Georg Ratzinger died on 1 July aged 96. The two brothers were ordained priests on the same day in 1951.
Benedict, who was elected in 2005 to succeed Pope John Paul II after a reign of nearly 27 years, shocked the world and even his closest aides on 11 February 2013 when he announced he was stepping down.