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Pope's brother: Pontiff was troubled by butler's revelations

Pope's brother: Pontiff was troubled by butler's revelations

Pope Benedict XVI was troubled by "some great challenges" during his time in office -- including allegations of corruption within the church that were illegally exposed by his former butler and his relationship with a controversial Catholic brotherhood -- the pontiff’s brother said Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters in Germany, Georg Ratzinger said the pope was “doing relatively well” and his announcement Monday that he was going to stand down had not had an effect on his health.

On Monday, Benedict, 85,
explained his resignation, saying that the papacy required “strength of mind and body” and his had deteriorated in recent months. On Tuesday, the Vatican acknowledged for the first time that the pope has had a pacemaker for years and that its battery was replaced a few months ago in secret, Reuters reported.

“But you notice that the aging process impacts body and soul, and especially on his strength," Ratzinger said Tuesday. "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 said the pope’s time in office had “created great challenges for him,” highlighting two particular issues that concerned his brother.

 "Within the church a lot of things happened, which brought up troubles, for example the relationship to the Pius Brotherhood or the irregularities within the Vatican, where the butler had let known indiscretions,” he said.

“These were emotional years, but with God's help and his own commitment, I think he mastered it rather well,” he added.

Ratzinger did not specify the pope’s issues with the Pius Brotherhood, or Society of St. Pius X as the group is formally known.

But in late December, Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the group,
described Jews as “the enemies of the church” to widespread condemnation from within and outside the Catholic Church. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, reportedly said it was “absolutely unacceptable, impossible to define Jews as enemies of the church.”

In October, the pope’s former butler Paolo Gabriele
was given an 18-month prison sentence in the so-called “Vatileaks” case, after he was found guilty of stealing thousands of Vatican documents -- including some of Benedict’s private papers and letters alleging corruption within the church -- while working for the pontiff.

Some of papers were leaked to the media and, in court, Gabriele said he acted out of concern for the church and the pope. The pope pardoned Gabriele just before Christmas.

On a brighter note, Ratzinger said foreign trips had also been “important” to the pope, enabling him “to have a pastoral impact, to find friends and to create understanding for the message of the Gospel.”

Reuters contributed to this report:

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By Carlo Angerer and Ian Johnston, NBC News
February 12, 2013, 2:27 pm
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