Pope's pacemaker 'did not' influence decision to quit

Benedict (85) remains pope until 8pm on February 28th, when a period of interregnum or sede vacante (empty chair) will begin, during which the church will be administered by the 'camerlengo' or chamberlain.

Benedict (85) remains pope until 8pm on February 28th, when a period of interregnum or sede vacante (empty chair) will begin, during which the church will be administered by the 'camerlengo' or chamberlain.

Tue, Feb 12, 2013, 00:00

Pope Benedict XVI had a heart pacemaker installed some time ago but was not suffering from poor health and remained lucid and serene in the wake of his decision to resign yesterday, the Vatican spokesman said today.

It had not been generally known that the 85-year-old pope had been fitted with a pacemaker.

Fr Federico Lombardi said the batteries on the appliance were replaced three months ago in a minor, routine intervention but that had played no part in persuading the pontiff to take the shock decision to step down.

"It had no influence on the decision, the reasons were in his perception that his strength had diminished with advancing age," Fr Lombardi told a press briefing at the Vatican.

The Vatican expects a successor to Pope Benedict to be elected before the end of next month.

Benedict (85) remains pope until 8pm on February 28th, when a period of interregnum or sede vacante (empty chair) will begin, during which the church will be administered by the “camerlengo” or chamberlain.

The Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone will summon the 120 cardinals worldwide to Rome for a conclave to elect the next pope.

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said that if the election process followed the usual lines the new pope should be elected “within the space of a month” by the end of March. Pope Benedict will take no part in the conclave.

Cardinal Seán Brady echoed church and political leaders across the world when he said the news of the pope’s resignation had come as a “shock” to him.

He also reflected the warm understanding internationally of the pope’s decision.

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