VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI had a secret operation three months ago to replace the batteries in his pacemaker but this did not influence his decision to resign, the Vatican said Tuesday.
“It was a routine operation. He already had a pacemaker. This had nothing to do with the decision of the Holy Father,” Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said.
While the pope’s heart troubles were widely known, the fact he had an operation so recently was only reported by Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore on Tuesday. The report fuelled speculation that the pope was resigning because of illness, even though he himself said he was resigning because his advancing age prevented him from carrying out his duties.
The newspaper report cited people close to the pope saying the operation had encouraged him to “question himself with simplicity and decisiveness over his capacity to guide the Ship of Saint Peter.”