From the indispensable John Allen:
In what has become a daily exercise in rumor control, the Vatican spokesperson on Thursday shot down one hot bit of speculation about the resignation of Benedict XVI and confirmed another one about his life after the papacy.
Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi denied that an accident suffered by Benedict XVI during his trip to Mexico in March 2012 led to his decision to renounce the papacy, as was suggested in a piece today by a leading Italian Vatican writer.
Journalist Andrea Tornielli wrote this morning that while Benedict was staying in a residence of Capuchin sisters in León, Mexico, he got up during the night to use the bathroom and, because he couldn’t quickly find the light switch, made his way in the dark. He hit his head on the sink, hard enough to cause bleeding.
As Tornielli reports, Benedict never complained of any pain and finished his program as scheduled. The incident was not revealed to the public.
In a briefing Thursday, Lombardi said he couldn’t deny that the incident took place but insisted it was “not relevant” in the decision to step down.
Earlier in the week, the editor of the Vatican newspaper wrote that Benedict formed his intention to renounce his papacy after that grueling six-day trip to Mexico and Cuba.
On another front, Lombardi confirmed that Benedict will be accompanied to Castel Gandolfo on Feb. 28 and later to the monastery on Vatican grounds where he plans to live by Archbishop Georg Gänswein. The 56-year-old Gänswein is the pope’s longtime personal secretary, and Benedict recently also made him the Prefect of the Papal Household, a position previously held by American Cardinal James Harvey.
UPDATE: NCR has a special page devoted to the papal resignation. Check it out. Bookmark and revisit for frequent updates. John Allen’s insights alone are worth it.