Pope's Brother Knew of Resignation in Advance

Monday, 11 Feb 2013 09:38 AM

By Lisa Barron

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To most people, the news of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation will have come, as one cardinal put it, as “a lightning bolt from a clear sky.” But not everyone was so shocked by the move.

The Pope’s brother, Georg Ratzinger, told reporters that he had known “for months” of the resignation plans. According to the German magazine Der Spiegel, he said Benedict wanted “more quiet” in his old age and his doctor told him not to take transatlantic trips for health reasons.

Talking from his home in Regensburg, Germany, Ratzinger, 89, said his younger brother was having increasing difficulty walking and his resignation was part of a "natural process."

"His age is weighing on him," he explained. “At this age my brother wants more rest."

Some scholars also say there were signals the Pope was considering an early retirement. George Ferzoco, a research fellow at Bristol University in England, told The Guardian that Benedict is the only pope to have twice visited the tomb of Pope Celestine V, who resigned in 1294 after making it possible for a pope to do so.

Ferzoco said he believes the link is obvious, noting, “I think the amount of attention he drew to Celestine was an indication of this matter having been on his mind. I think it’s quite clear,” he told the paper.

Ferzoco also pointed out that in the town of Sulmona, home to Celestine’s tomb, the cathedral has a mosaic showing both Celestine and Benedict.

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