Vatican Spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi, confirmed that the Pope hit his head during his March 2012 trip to Mexico, but denied the accident had any “relevant” role in his resignation, citing old-age and not a particular health problem as reason for his resignation.
However, a prelate who was on the trip with the pope told an Italian paper that after the injury he knew that “the pope no longer had the physical strength to endure these long trips” and “the change of time zone, the burden of public commitments” was adding to his problems. The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, reported earlier in the week that Benedict had taken the decision to resign after the Mexico-Cuba trip, which was physically exhausting for the 85-year-old pope.
This came as Pope Benedict XVI, who said he would remain hidden or secluded after his retirement, enumerated what could pass as an action plan for his successor.
How Pope sustained head injury
Benedict XVI was injured in Leon, Mexico when he was trying to move around an unfamiliar room in the dark not being able to find the switch for the light. Italy’s La Stampa newspaper said he bled and blood stained his hair and sheets.
The BBC reported yesterday that the previously unpublicized head injury made the Pope to resign from the post, adding that it was soon after his trip to Mexico and Cuba last year that the Pope announced his possible resignation.
The head injury was the latest revelation of a hidden health issue to emerge from the Holy See since the Pope’s shock announcement, and adds to questions about the gravity of the pontiff’s condition. On Tuesday, the Vatican said for the first time that Benedict has a pacemaker, and that he had its batteries replaced just three months ago.
To be hidden from the world
Pope Benedict will see out his life in prayer, “hidden from the world”, he said yesterday in his first personal comment on his plans since he announced his retirement.
His remarks, in a voice that was hoarse at times, followed Monday’s resignation notice which spoke of “a life dedicated to prayer.” The Vatican has said the 85-year-old German would live within its walls. His seclusion may allay concern that the first living former Pope in centuries might trouble Church unity.
Speaking unscripted to thousands of priests from the diocese of Rome, in what turned out to be a farewell address in his capacity as bishop of the Italian capital, Benedict outlined a cloistered life ahead, once he steps down in two weeks time:
“Even if I am withdrawing into prayer, I will always be close to all of you and I am sure that you will be close to me, even if I remain hidden to the world,” he said.
After February 28, when he becomes the first pontiff in hundreds of years to resign instead of ruling for life, Benedict will first go to the papal summer retreat at Castel Gandolfo, South of Rome, and then move permanently into the four-storey Mater Ecclesiae convent, in the gardens behind St. Peter’s Basilica.
The Vatican has already said that he would not influence the election of his successor, which will take place in a secret conclave between March 15 and 20 in the Sistine Chapel.