13 Feb 2013

Vatican confirms Pope Benedict has pacemaker

7:37 am on 13 February 2013

A day after Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation, the Vatican has acknowledged the pontiff has had a pacemaker for years.

The 85-year-old pontiff said in a speech in Latin on Monday that he will step down at the end of this month because he no longer has the mental and physical strength to cope with the demands of his ministry.

The first papal resignation in nearly 600 years surprised governments, Vatican-watchers and even the Pope's closest aides, the BBC reports.

Vatican spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi said Pope Benedict had a heart pacemaker fitted several years ago but was not suffering from poor health.

Father Lombardi said the batteries in the pacemaker had been replaced in a routine operation just under three months ago, but this had not affected his decision to resign.

Benedict's last public appearance will be his final mass in Saint Peter's Square on 27 February, the day before he steps down.

Father Lomardi said the pontiff would have no role in the running of the church after his resignation.