The Vatican is seeking to temper concern about Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI's health after his longtime secretary said he was "like a candle that slowly and calmly goes out."

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Thursday that Benedict's condition doesn't raise "any particular concerns" for a man who turns 89 next month.

Lombardi added: "Of course it is part of the effects of old age and a gradual, growing fragility of the physical condition as with any elderly person." But he stressed that Benedict's mind is "perfectly lucid."

Benedict's longtime secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, recently told an Italian magazine that Benedict was like a slowly extinguishing candle but had maintained his subtle sense of humor. "He's calm, in peace with God, himself and the world," Gaenswein said.