No medical issues raised other than frailty of age
HealthNo details about the pope’s health were given to accompany his resignation announcement other than his own reference to the frailty that comes with age.
Speaking to a small gathering of cardinals, Benedict spoke of his advanced years and infirmity, but showed characteristic tough-mindedness. He spoke in Latin and told them that after examining his conscience “before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise”.
The pope looks all of his 85 years and, while apparently physically able notwithstanding his age, the strain of leading the world’s one billion Roman Catholics – the meetings, speeches, and simple management of the church’s affairs – had evidently become too daunting.
Neither the pope nor any Vatican official gave details of any adverse medical diagnosis received or any health issue concerning the pope other than advancing age.
In recent months, he has been showing signs of age. He often seemed tired and even appeared to doze off during midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, after being brought to the altar of St Peter’s on a wheeled platform.
However, few expected him to resign so suddenly, even though he had said in the past that he would consider the option.
“The pope took us by surprise,” said Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi.
Fr Lombardi said the pope did not display strong emotions as he made his announcement, but spoke with “great dignity, great concentration and great understanding of the significance of the moment”.
Benedict will spend his retirement in a monastery within the Vatican after some time resting at the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo overlooking Lake Albano in Lazio. – (New York Times/Irish Times foreign desk)