Pope fitted with pacemaker 'some time ago': Vatican

Neither ill health nor a pacemaker fitting contributed to Pope Benedict's shocking decision to resign from the papacy, a Vatican spokesman says. The pontiff remains serene about his abdication.

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI had a heart pacemaker installed some time ago, but was not suffering from poor health and remained lucid and serene in the wake of his decision to resign, the Vatican spokesman said Tuesday.

It had not been generally known that the 85-year-old pope had been fitted with a pacemaker.

Father Federico Lombardi said the batteries on the appliance were replaced three months ago in a minor, routine intervention, but that had played no part in persuading the pontiff to make the shocking decision to step down.

"It had no influence on the decision. The reasons were in his perception that his strength had diminished with advancing age," Lombardi told a press briefing at the Vatican.

Reporting by Philip Pullella.

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