"When the history of Benedict XVI's papacy is written, we may well shake our heads in awe and amazement as to how such a frail and elderly man could have undertaken the massive burden of steering Peter's barque in such turbulent times, and with such wisdom and equanimity.
Here's what he recounted one week after being elected Pope:
“As the trend in the ballots slowly made me realize that - in a manner of speaking - the guillotine would fall on me, I started to feel quite dizzy. I thought that I had done my life's work and could now hope to live out my days in peace. I told the Lord with deep conviction, 'Don't do this to me. You have younger and better candidates, who could take up this great task with a totally different energy and strength.' Evidently, this time He didn't listen to me.” [To a group of German pilgrims]
In September 1991, he'd suffered a hemorrhagic stroke that impaired his eyesight temporarily. This was not made public (the official news was that he fell and struck his head against a radiator). This was known to the Conclave that elected him Pope.
In 1997, when he turned 70, Ratzinger asked Pope John Paul II for permission to leave the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith, but the Pope refused.
In May 2005 (one month after becoming Pope) the Vatican reported that he had suffered another mild stroke. Cardinal Barbarin said that since the first stroke Ratzinger had been suffering from an age-related heart condition, for which he was on medication.
After announcing his resignation this week, it was revealed that Benedict had been fitted with a pacemaker while still a Cardinal, before his election in 2005.
There's no way that we can ever repay the immense debt of gratitude that we owe this extraordinarily good, brave and faithful servant of the Church. But his Master surely will."
(courtesy of Frank Christopher)