Benedict heralds possibility of resignation if his health fails

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Benedict XVI has said he could become the first Pope to voluntarily resign in more than 700 years should he become physically or mentally incapacitated.

In a book of interviews, the 83-year Pontiff challenged centuries of Catholic Church tradition by saying that he would not hesitate to relinquish his post if no longer felt "physically, psychologically and spiritually" up to the job.

The papacy has traditionally been seen as a job for life, with pontiffs expected to remain at the helm of the Church until death. The last pontiff to resign willingly was Celestine V in 1294.

Pope Benedict is considered overall to be in good health but broke his wrist last year after slipping and falling while on holiday in the Italian Alps.

He admitted, however, that he is often taxed by his papal duties and frequent overseas visits....

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