Pope Benedict Surgery: Did Heart Operation Incite Papal Resignation?

By Staff Reporter on February 12, 2013 4:42 PM EST

Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI issues papal resignation three months after his heart surgery. (Photo: Reuters)

The pope has decided to carry out a papal resignation. It has been six centuries since a pope has resigned and only two other popes have ever issued a resignation in the history of the Vatican.

The rare papal resignation by Pope Benedict XVI has generated many rumors, including rumors of terminal bone cancer. Other sources noted that Benedict recently had a surgery to replace the battery in his pacemaker.

While the Vatican has denied rumors of cancer and dismisses a pacemaker as any reason to resign, spokesperson Rev. Rederico Lombardi assured the media that the Pope is well and is suffering from no major health conditions.

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"[It was] not a serious operation, just normal routine. [The surgery] had nothing to do with his decision," Lombardi said.

Pope Benedict knew about his heart condition for some time and had his pacemaker was installed eight years ago, when he was a cardinal.

During an interview with Good Morning America, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke shared details surrounding the pope's resignation.

"The pope's health right now is what you see, of an 85-year-old, who is almost 86, and who is starting to slow," said Burke. "He does have that heart condition. That was not the reason for the resignation. People have pacemaker batteries replaced all the time. His mind is clear. It's more in mobility, and slowing down a bit."

Burke also took the opportunity on Good Morning America to dismiss bone cancer rumors, calling the claims "certainly not true."

According to Rev. Rederico Lombardi, Pope Benedict will keep all his appointments until Feb. 28. The pope's last day to the weekly general audience will be Feb. 27.

After his duties are complete, Benedict will live in the convent inside the Vatican for cloister nuns. The nuns no longer live in the convent and workers are now hard at work to rebuild and renovate the space to make it more suitable for residence.

Contrary to rumors of being "pushed" out of his position, Benedict's decision to resign actually caught the Vatican by surprise. Now, the Vatican is tasked with deciding who will become the 266th pope of the church's 2,000 year history.

While Benedict will not be involved in the voting for the new pontiff, it is clear that Benedict's influence will still be felt as more than half the cardinals within the casting ballot had been appointed by Benedict himself.

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