Benedict XVI has said in an interview that he felt a “duty” to resign from the papacy because of his declining health and the demands of papal travel.

While his heart was set on completing the Year of Faith, the retired pope told Italian journalist Elio Guerriero that, after his visit to Mexico and Cuba in March 2012, he felt he was “incapable of fulfilling” the demands of another international trip, especially with World Youth Day 2013 scheduled for Brazil.

“With the programme set out by John Paul II for these [World Youth] days, the physical presence of the pope was indispensable,” he told Guerriero in an interview included in the journalist’s forthcoming biography. “This, too, was a circumstance which made my resignation a duty,” he said.

An excerpt of Guerriero’s book, Servant of God and Humanity: The Biography of Benedict XVI, was published last week in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

Pope Benedict said it was during his visit to Mexico and Cuba in 2012 that he “experienced very strongly the limits of my physical endurance”. Among the problems was the change in time zones. Upon consulting with his doctor, he said, it became clear “that I would never be able to take part in the World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro”.

“From that day, I had to decide in a relatively short time the date of my retirement,” he said.

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