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20180207T0843 14372 CNS VATICAN LETTER BENEDICT 800Pope Benedict XVI waves as he leaves his final general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican in this Feb. 27, 2013, file photo. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) Feb-15-2018VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican denied that retired Pope Benedict XVI has a degenerative neurological disease or paralyzing condition after his brother, 94-year-old Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, told a magazine that Pope Benedict had a debilitating disease.

In an interview published Feb. 13 in the German weekly entertainment magazine, Neue Post, Msgr. Ratzinger said Pope Benedict suffered from a nerve disease that was slowly paralyzing him.

"The greatest concern is that the paralysis could eventually reach his heart and then everything could end quickly," Msgr. Ratzinger was quoted as saying.

"I pray every day to ask God for the grace of a good death, at a good moment, for my brother and me. We both have this great wish," he added.

Although news about the interview also was published on the German edition of the Vatican News website, the Holy See press office said in a statement Feb. 15 that "the alleged news reports of a paralyzing or degenerative illness are false."

"In two months, Benedict XVI will turn 91 years old and, as he himself recently said, he feels the weight of years, which is normal at this age," the statement said.

In a letter to an Italian newspaper dated Feb. 5, Pope Benedict said that "with the slow diminishing of my physical strength, inwardly I am on a pilgrimage toward Home."

"It is a great grace in this last, sometimes tiring stage of my journey, to be surrounded by a love and kindness that I never could have imagined," Pope Benedict wrote.

He had announced his retirement from the papacy Feb. 11, 2013, and stepped down Feb. 28, 2013.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.