Pope has heart pacemaker
The public disclosure of the device, installed in 2005, comes a day after Benedict announced his resignation.
The New York Times
ROME — A day after Pope Benedict XVI stunned Roman Catholics by announcing he would resign at the end of the month, the Vatican disclosed new details about his health Tuesday, saying he had been fitted with a heart pacemaker a decade ago but that the procedure had not influenced his decision to become the first pope in almost 600 years to step down.
The disclosure about the device, whose existence was not widely known, came as the Vatican grappled with logistical questions raised by a decision that gave the 85-year-old pontiff just 17 days to wind up his almost eight-year papacy.
At a news conference, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said the pacemaker was installed while Benedict was a cardinal, before his election as pope in 2005. The batteries were replaced three months ago in a routine procedure that did not influence the pope’s thinking about resigning, Lombardi said.
“This did not weigh on his decision,” Lombardi said. “It is more about his forces diminishing.”
When he announced his resignation Monday, the pope cited advancing years and weakness, saying his strength “has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”
Greg Burke, the Vatican’s senior communications adviser, said the pacemaker was installed when the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was the head of the Vatican’s main doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
“You don’t resign because you have a pacemaker or because you have a new battery for a pacemaker,” Burke said.
Before his election as pope, some Vatican analysts recalled, Benedict spent several years as a close adviser to his ailing predecessor, Pope John Paul II, whose health deteriorated with Parkinson’s disease and other ailments that left him severely debilitated, an example that could have influenced Benedict’s thinking about the effect of infirmity on the papal office.
Lombardi said the pope would continue his day-to-day activities until the end of the month.
Benedict’s announcement was the first papal resignation in 598 years.