Skip to main content
The Web      Powered by
powered by Yahoo!

New pope suffered 1991 brain hemorrhage

Pope Benedict XVI waves to the crowd at the Vatican after his election Tuesday.
more videoVIDEO
Pope's past offers clues to future of papacy.

A look at the many facets of the global Catholic Church.

The new pope receives mixed reaction around the world.
John Paul II
Joseph Ratzinger
Cable News Network (CNN)

VATICAN CITY (CNN) -- When he was a cardinal in 1991, Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, suffered a brain hemorrhage "which laid him down for a while, but he recovered from it," said CNN Vatican analyst John Allen on Wednesday.

The 78-year-old cardinal, chosen on Tuesday to become the new pope, now "appears to be in basically good health," but also is aware that his pontificate may not last "very long," said Allen, author of a 2000 biography of Ratzinger, "Cardinal Ratzinger: The Vatican's Enforcer of the Faith."

"About two years ago he was experiencing fatigue, but appears to have picked up from that," Allen said.

Ratzinger's brother Georg Ratzinger has raised questions about whether someone of the pope's age is fit for the post.

Before Benedict was elected pope, Georg Ratzinger said he was "convinced" that his brother would "be spared from this burden. At age 78, it's not good to take on such a job which challenges the entire person and the physical and mental existence," Allen said.

"At an age when you approach 80, it's no longer guaranteed that one is able to work and get up the next day."

Allen said the new pope's health is "OK," and "everyone who has worked with him and seen him in recent months, including myself, would say he appears to be in basically good health."

"But on the other hand, let's not kid ourselves," Allen said. "At 78 years of age it's unlikely we're going to see another 26-year pontificate," such as John Paul II's, which lasted from 1978 to his death on April 2 at age 84.

When Ratzinger told cardinals in the conclave why he wanted to take on the name Benedict XVI, "one of the things he alluded to was the fact that Benedict XV, the last pope to have that name, had one of the shortest pontificates of the 20th century," Allen said.

"So I think he has a very keen sense that this may not be a very long pontificate and there's an awful lot to do."

Story Tools
Subscribe to Time for $1.99 cover
Top Stories
Candy makers target fitness market
Top Stories
CNN/Money: Security alert issued for 40 million credit cards

International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
   The Web     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.