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Pope Hurt Head Last Year On Trip To Mexico

Earlier this week, Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world by announcing he was resigning from his post as head of the Roman Catholic Church. It was the first time a sitting pope had stepped down in nearly 600 years.

As Mark wrote on Monday, Benedict cited his "advanced age (85) and diminishing strength," as reasons for his decision.

On Thursday, it emerged that the pope had hit his head on a sink during his trip last March to Mexico. But a Vatican spokesman denied that had anything to do with Benedict's decision to step down.

The revelation came just two days after the spokesman said the pope underwent a secret operation late last year to replace the battery for a pacemaker that he's had for years.

Benedict retires on Feb. 28, and the Vatican has been keen to say that he will stay retired.

Here's more from The Associated Press:

"The papal ring will be destroyed, along with other powerful emblems of authority, just as they are after a pope's death. The retiring Pope Benedict XVI will live in a monastery on the edge of the Vatican gardens and will likely even give up his beloved theological writing."

And, the Vatican says, Benedict will have no role in the election of his successor. But Benedict's private secretary will remain in that position and live with the outgoing pope, and he will also serve as prefect of the new pontiff's household.

The AP has a story on the "litany of smokescreens after the papal bombshell." Here's what it says, in part:

"As the Catholic world reeled from shock over the abdication, it soon became clear that Benedict's post-papacy lodgings have been under construction since at least the fall. That in turn put holes in the Holy See's early claims that Benedict kept his decision to himself until he revealed it.

"Vatican secrecy is legendary and can have tragic consequences — as the world learned through the church sex abuse scandal in which bishops quietly moved abusive priests without reporting their crimes.

"And the secrecy is institutionalized from such weighty matters to the most trivial aspects of Vatican life."

A new pope is expected to be elected before Easter.

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