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Report: Paul VI planned resignation after 80th birthday

August 08, 2011

Pope Paul VI planned to resign after reaching the age of 80, and was dissuaded from that step by Vatican officials only after his most trusted aide left the Roman Curia, according to a Vatican Insider report.

Gianni Gennari writes that Pope Paul decided to retire not only because of exhaustion and failing health, but also because of criticism he had received when he ruled that other prelates should resign upon reaching the age of 80.

Preparing to step down, Gennari writes, Pope Paul named his right-hand man, Archbishop Giovanni Benelli, to become Archbishop of Florence, and almost immediately thereafter elevated him to the College of Cardinals. But with Benelli no longer in Rome, other Vatican officials denounced “rumors” of an impending papal resignation, and eventually persuaded Paul VI to abandon his plan. The Pope died less than a year after his 80th birthday.

Gennari wrote about the planned resignation after L’Osservatore Romano published an article, timed for the 33rd anniversary of the late Pontiff’s death (on August 6), discussing the Benedictine spirituality of Paul VI. In fact, according to the Vatican Insider report, the Pope had planned, after resignation, to live out his remaining days in the Benedictine monastery in Einseidein, Switzerland.


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  • Posted by: cincinnatus - Aug. 08, 2011 8:39 PM ET USA

    Not saying your editorial style makes you a churchy "National Enquirer" but enough with the gossip already. BTW your "Vatican Insider" Ganni Gennari, is a famous Roman contrarian and a loveable blowhard. A laicised and married ex-priest, alumnus of the Roman Seminary John XXIII attended and a schoolmate of Cardinals Sepe and Comastri and the late, lamented Archbishop Sambi. No one ever took him very seriously then (or now). Got his jounalistic start with the Communist daily, "Paese Sera."