Nightly News   |  February 12, 2013

Pope decided to step down a year ago, Vatican says

Although the Pope’s announcement that he would abdicate his position seemed sudden, Benedict reportedly made his decision in 2012 after a trip to Cuba and Mexico. NBC’s Anne Thompson reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> to another front, we are learning more tonight about the weeks and months that have led up to the pope's surprise resignation. a closely held secret that was apparently planned quite some time. we are also getting new details about how this transition will work involving, after all, the abdication of a living former pope something the church hasn't experienced since the middle ages . nbc's anne thompson has made her way to the vatican tonight. anne, good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian. first, some news about the pope's health. we learned today that three months ago, the pope underwent surgery to replace a battery in his pacemaker. the vatican officials say that pacemaker was inserted into the pope's heart before he became the pontiff. i asked a vatican spokesperson if that surgery had anything to do with the pope's decision to step down. he said no, that decision was made almost a year ago after the pope returned from his visit to cuba and mexico. now, since the shock of the decision has worn off, people here at the vatican are beginning to see the clues they missed to monday's stunning announcement. for example, why is all this construction work going on at a monastery here at the vatican and who is going to live there? the answer is that is where pope benedict is going to make his retirement home. tomorrow, the pope will hold his weekly audience and then later in the day, he will preside over ash wednesday mass, marking the beginning of lent. that mass was supposed to be held in a small church in rome. it's been move here to st. peter's basilica to accommodate the thousands who are expected to attend what could well be the pope's last public mass. brian?

>> all those pieces and clues now apparent. it will be an interesting 16 days ahead. anne thompson in vatican city , thanks.