The Vatican is acknowledging for the first time that Pope Benedict XVI has had a pacemaker for years and that its battery was replaced a few months ago in secret.
Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said Benedict had the pacemaker installed "a long time" before he became pope in 2005. He called the latest medical procedure "routine."
It was the first time the Vatican has mentioned a papal pacemaker.
Italian daily Il Sole 24 said the pope had the pacemaker procedure less than three months ago in a Rome hospital and did not miss any public appearances.
Lombardi also said Tuesday the Pope will "not intervene in any way" in the election of a successor, and will leave cardinals "autonomous". He added that Benedict will have no role in running of the church after his resignation.
Benedict announced on Monday that he was resigning on Feb. 28 because he says he has become too infirm to handle the burdens of the papacy. He will become the first pope to step down in six centuries.
Resignation 'no surprise'
Meanwhile, Benedict's brother, 89-year-old Georg Ratzinger, told reporters Tuesday that the Pope is planning to stay out of the public eye following his retirement at the end of the month and will probably not even write any more.
Speaking to reporters in his home in the southern German city of Regensburg, Ratzinger said his brother has no plans to move back to his German homeland but would instead stay in the Vatican.
"You don't transplant an old tree," Ratzinger said.
The two are very close, however, and Ratzinger said he's planning to visit his brother later in the year.
For Ratzinger, Benedict's decision to step down was no surprise. "He has been thinking about it for several months," he said. "He concluded that his powers are falling victim to age."
He talked with the pope by telephone on Monday evening after the announcement and said his brother was now hoping to lead a quiet life in the Vatican. A prolific writer during his papacy, Ratzinger said that was also something his brother would now likely end. "I don't think he will write anymore," Ratzinger said.
Rudolf Voderholzer, the bishop of Regensburg who is also in charge of the pope's theological institute that publishes his work, said even if Benedict does write, not more would be published during his lifetime.
"Anything he published could be conceived as interference in the work of the next pope," he said.
As for his successor, Ratzinger said only that his brother "feels that a younger person is needed to deal with the problems of the times."