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Vatican says Pope Benedict XVI will have no role in election of successor

  • pope_benedict_file_021213.jpg

    In this Sept. 12, 2006, file photo, Pope Benedict XVI waves to the crowd at the end of a papal Mass in Regensburg, southern Germany, about 75 miles northeast of Munich. (AP)

  • bc372b1232df4a05290f6a7067004869.jpg

    Feb 12, 2013: Georg Ratzinger, brother of the outgoing Pope Benedict XVI, answers journalists' questions during a media opportunity in his home in Regensburg, southern Germany. (AP)

Pope Benedict XVI will have no role in the election of his successor, a Vatican spokesman said Tuesday, after his brother said the pontiff is planning to stay out of the public eye and have a quiet retirement.

Benedict announced his resignation Monday, citing frail health. On Feb. 28, he will become the first pope to step down in nearly 600 years.

The Rev. Federico Lombardi said Tuesday that "the pope will surely say absolutely nothing about the process of the election" for his successor.

"He will not interfere in any way," Lombardi told reporters at a Vatican briefing.

After speaking with Benedict, his brother said Tuesday that the pope will probably not write any further works during his lifetime.

Addressing reporters in his home in the southern German city of Regensburg, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, who was ordained on the same day as the pope in 1951, said his brother also has no plans to move back to his German homeland.

"You don't transplant an old tree," the 89-year-old said.

The two are very close, however, and Ratzinger said he's already planning to visit his brother later in the year.

The 85-year-old Benedict shocked the world Monday by announcing that he planned to step down from the papacy at the end of the month.

For Ratzinger, however, the decision 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. Though he was a prolific writer before and during his papacy, Ratzinger said that was now likely to end.

"I don't think he will write any new works," Ratzinger said.

Rudolf Voderholzer, the bishop of Regensburg who is also in charge of the pope's theological institute that publishes his work, said that even if Benedict does write, no new works 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 his brother "feels that a younger person is needed to deal with the problems of the times."

Asked whether the time had come for a pope from outside of Europe, Ratzinger said that could happen in future, but not immediately.

"For now I think the job will remain with a European," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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