Pope Had Secret Pacemaker Op; BENEDICT XVI QUITS HEALTH CONCERNS; 'JOB DOUBT' AFTER BATTERY SWOP SURGERY

The Mirror (London, England), February 13, 2013 | Go to article overview

Pope Had Secret Pacemaker Op; BENEDICT XVI QUITS HEALTH CONCERNS; 'JOB DOUBT' AFTER BATTERY SWOP SURGERY


Byline: From RACHAEL BLETCHLY In Vatican City, Rome

THEY insisted it was all perfectly routine - a simple procedure that went off without a hitch.

Three months ago, Pope Benedict XVI had popped into a private hospital in Rome to have the batteries in his pacemaker replaced... as Supreme Pontiffs do.

They made it sound like a quick MOT - a RoboPope power-boost - and stressed it had nothing to do with the bombshell announcement that rocked the world.

But yesterday the Vatican was forced to admit that the 85-year-old Bishop of Rome has been kept ticking over by a secret cardiac implant for more than eight years - throwing a whole new light on his shock resignation.

Yet official spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said: "It had no influence on the decision. The reasons were, in his perception, that his strength was diminishing as he got older."

Officials were caught on the hop on Monday when Pope Benedict announced that, over the past three months, his lack of strength was making it impossible for him to fulfil his duty.

The timescale suggests this doubt emerged at the time of his pacemaker revamp - but the Vatican denied any connection.

They said he had the pacemaker fitted before he became Pope and had no subsequent complications, adding that the battery replacement was routine.

They did reveal the Pope was deeply distressed after announcing he will step down on February 28 and had returned to his private quarters where he wept.

Many of the cardinals who heard his resignation were also overcome with emotion, particularly when Benedict told them, "I ask pardon for all my defects".

Cardinal Raffaele Farina, emeritus prefect of the Apostolic Library, said: "We were all taken by surprise. Many faces in the room were streaked with tears."

The Archbishop of Palermo, Paolo Romeo, added: "We were amazed by the Holy Father's decision. But it is a choice that deserves respect."

Yesterday the Pope spent the day alone in his private quarters "in prayer, study, and reflection" - no doubt accompanied by one of the stray cats he has adopted from the streets of Rome. The resignation has left Vatican officials in disarray about what becomes of an ex-Pope. It is the first time in 600 years that a pontiff has resigned and Father Lombardi admitted it is not clear what his new title may be. …

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