The Pope had a pacemaker, had hit his head severely recently, and has been having his retirement home built since last fall.
The Vatican brushed aside criticism for keeping quiet about the pope’s December pacemaker procedure, on grounds it was “routine.” One Vatican official said making the operation public would simply have led to a big and unnecessary commotion about the pope’s health. “You can imagine the satellite dishes in St. Peter’s square,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
The front-man for the church’s dance of concealment and disclosure: Vatican spokesman The Rev. Federico Lombardi. In his briefings, Lombardi has been forced into the uncomfortable situation of keeping silent on aspects of the pope’s health and future, only to backpedal when confronted with reports in Italian newspapers.
In the latest disclosure, Turin’s La Stampa newspaper reported Thursday that Benedict hit his head on a sink and bled profusely when he got up in the middle of the night in an unfamiliar bedroom in Leon, Mexico. The report said papal blood stained Benedict’s hair, his pillow and the floor.
Lombardi confirmed the incident but denied it played any role in the pope’s resignation. Still, suspicions are bound to be whetted, since the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano reported this week that Benedict had taken the decision to resign after the Mexico-Cuba trip, which was physically exhausting for the 85-year-old pope.