Vatican Refutes Rumors of Pope Benedict’s Demise

Pope Francis
AFP Tiziana FABI

The Vatican has quashed rumors circulating on social media that emeritus Pope Benedict XVI had suffered a stroke and was either dead or in critical condition.

On Tuesday, the interim director of the Vatican’s Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, confirmed that Pope Benedict XVI did not recently suffer a stroke and was certainly not dead.

“The rumors are false,” Mr. Gisotti told the Catholic Herald on Tuesday, news that was backed up by Benedict’s personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who called the reports “fake news.”

In April, similar rumors had circulated after the publication of an 18-page article by the emeritus pope on the sex abuse crisis, with certain observers calling into question the text’s authorship on grounds that Benedict could not have written it due to his “failing health.” At that time some called into question not only Benedict’s physical health but his mental lucidity as well, speculation that proved to have no grounding in fact.

While the 92-year-old former pope is undeniably feeble, he has continued his reclusive life in the Vatican as actively as ever since his resignation from the papacy in 2013.

In his declaration on resigning the papacy, Benedict cited his advanced age as well as deteriorating “strength of mind and body” that ill equipped him for the rigors of the modern papacy.


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