FREIBURG, Germany, Sept 25 (Reuters) - The Vatican dismissed
an Italian newspaper report on Sunday that Pope Benedict was
considering resigning next year when he turns 85.
"The pope's health is excellent," Vatican spokesman Father
Federico Lombardi said. "We don't know anything about it. Ask
the person who wrote it."
Catholic writer Antonio Socci, writing in the Italian
newspaper Libero on Sunday, said the pope was considering
resigning when he turns 85 next April. He did not cite any
sources or reasons.
In a book last year, the pope said he would not hesitate to
become the first pontiff to resign willingly in more than 700
years if he felt himself no longer able, "physically,
psychologically and spiritually" to run the Catholic Church.
Lombardi noted that the pope was "holding up very well"
during the trip to his German homeland. "It's clear that he is
still able to deal with very difficult commitments," he said.
Several popes in recent history, including the late Pope
John Paul, considered resigning for health reasons instead of
ruling for life.
The last pope to resign willingly was Celestine V in 1294
after reigning for only five months. Gregory XII reluctantly
abdicated in 1415 to end a dispute with a rival claimant to the
(Reporting By Philip Pullella)
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