One day after Pope Benedict XVI announced he's resigning in late February due to declining health, the Vatican disclosed new details about his physical well-being, saying that he had been fitted with a pacemaker a decade ago. The battery was secretly replaced recently.
“He does have a heart condition and that wasn’t the reason for the resignation, however. People have pacemaker batteries replaced all the time,” says Greg Burke, a Vatican spokesman.
When he retired, Pope Benedict XVI will move to the monastery inside the Vatican walls. Many assumed the ongoing renovations were for the nuns who have lived there, but the last order moved out four months ago.
“He was neutral about it, without emotion. He made his decision and life goes on,” says his brother.
“The time has always been there for an African pope,” says Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana.
Georgetown University Senior Fellow Thomas Reese says not to bet on a U.S. pope.
“So many people around the world are suspicious of the United States. If an American got elected pope, people in many third world countries would say, ‘Ah yes, the CIA fixed the election, or Wall Street bought the election.’ We don’t need that kind of problem," he says.
“We surely say absolutely nothing about the process of the election,” says Fr. Federico Lombardi, Pope Benedict’s spokesman.
In the meantime, the buzz continues over images of a jagged lightning bolt over St. Peter’s just hours after Pope Benedict’s announcement.
Since the pope and his predecessor picked the entire College of Cardinals, don’t expect radical difference.
“So we’re not going to see radical change,” says Fr. Thomas Reese of Georgetown University. “We’re going to see stability, consistency, continuity in terms of policy. On the other hand, in terms of personality and change, we’re going to see a big change.”