VATICAN CITY (AP) -- The Vatican is acknowledging for the first time that Pope Benedict XVI has had a pacemaker for years and that its battery was replaced a few months ago in secret.
Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said Benedict had the pacemaker installed "a long time" before he became pope in 2005. He called the latest medical procedure "routine."
It was the first time the Vatican has mentioned a papal pacemaker.
Italian daily Il Sole 24 said the pope had the pacemaker procedure less than three months ago in a Rome hospital and did not miss any public appearances.
Benedict is resigning on Feb. 28 because he says he has become too infirm to handle the burdens of the papacy. He will become the first pope to step down in six centuries.
Pope's brother says Benedict won't return home
Pope Benedict XVI's brother says he spoke with the pontiff after his surprise announcement that he was stepping down and that the 85-year-old is not planning on moving back to his German homeland after his retirement.
Georg Ratzinger, the pope's 89-year-old brother, says it made more sense for Benedict to stay in the Vatican.
"You don't transplant an old tree," Ratzinger told a small group of reporters at his home in Regensburg, a small city in southern Germany.
Ratzinger says his brother intends to lead a quiet life out of the public eye, and wasn't planning on publishing any more works.
He says "I don't think he will write anymore."
Ratzinger says he's already planning a visit to go see his brother later in the year.