Not everyone has kind words about Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to retire due to health issues. The late Pope John Paul II’s personal secretary appeared to criticize the move, pointing out that his former boss continued to work while dying of Parkinson’s disease.
John Paul “led the church to the end because he was convinced that one doesn’t come down from the cross,” said Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, Poland, in a radio interview, according to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
In fact, he noted, “In those decisions he had always sought advice from Cardinal Ratzinger,” using Benedict’s name before he succeeded John Paul, who died in 2005 at the age of 84.
Still, Dziwisz praised Benedict, adding, “Both of them had a great charisma, and a great role for the church and for humanity.”
Dziwisz’s remarks came amid revelations by the Vatican that three months ago Benedict underwent surgery to replace the battery in a heart pacemaker implanted a decade ago.
That led him to “question himself with simplicity and decisiveness over his capacity to guide the ship of St. Peter,” reported the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore.
In announcing his resignation on Monday, Benedict cited his “advanced age” and “deteriorating” physical and mental strength. He will step down from the papacy on Feb. 28, becoming the first Pope to retire in nearly 600 years.
Benedict will preside over his last public Mass as Pope during Ash Wednesday services at St. Peter’s Basilica.
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