News of Pope Benedict XVI's resignation was greeted with almost immediate speculation when it was announced Monday. Why had the pontiff decided to do what no one in nearly 600 years had felt necessary?
Now, Benedict's brother Georg Ratzinger, 89, is beginning to shed some light on what may have motivated his famous younger brother.
Speaking with reporters in Germany on Tuesday, Ratzinger said that his brother's eight years at the helm of the Catholic Church had been difficult ones, both physically and mentally, NBC News reports.
"You notice that the aging process impacts body and soul, and especially on his strength," Ratzinger said, according to the outlet. "And he thinks that with a reduced workload he couldn't carry on this great responsibility, that a younger person is needed to capture the problems of today's time and who has the power to do what has to be done.”
Ratzinger mentioned a few issues that may have put special stress on the pontiff, including the so-called Vatileaks scandal that deeply embarrassed the Vatican.
In October 2012, the pope's former butler, Paolo Gabriele, was convicted of leaking internal Vatican documents, many of which were published in an Italian journalist's book about the papacy. The documents "pointed to alleged misdeeds within the Vatican’s administration and alleged financial mismanagement at its chief financial institutions," according to The New York Times.
Ratzinger did not mention the numerous sexual abuse scandals that plagued Benedict's reign. However, he did note that the pope's decision was not completely out of the blue.
"He has been thinking about it for several months," he said, according to the Associated Press. "He concluded that his powers are falling victim to age."
Ratzinger said his brother was increasingly frail and that he was having trouble walking, according to the Guardian. Indeed, on Tuesday the Vatican confirmed that Benedict has had a pacemaker for years and had the battery secretly changed less than three months ago, the AP reports.
Before his brother became pope following Pope John Paul II's death, Ratzinger said he hoped his brother would be passed over for a younger cardinal, according to the Guardian.
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