Pope Benedict XVI’s insomnia was the “central reason” for his resignation in 2013: he revealed it himself in a letter sent to his biographer a few weeks before his death and published by a German weekly newspaper yesterday.
The Pope Emeritus sent a letter to his biographer, the German Peter Seewald, on October 28, a few weeks before his death. Joseph Ratzinger, who died on December 31 at the age of 95, explains in this document, which the weekly Focus revealed, that the “central reason” for his resignation in February 2013 “was the insomnia that had accompanied (him) continuously the World Youth Days in Cologne” in August 2005, a few months after his election to succeed John Paul II.
His personal physician then prescribed “strong remedies” that initially enabled him to secure his post.
However, according to the letter from the Pope Emeritus, these sleeping pills would have reached their “limits” over time and “less and less could guarantee” their availability. This intake of sleeping pills is said to have been the cause of an accident during the trip to Mexico and Cuba in March 2012. The morning after the first night, he reportedly discovered his handkerchief was again “soaked in blood,” the letter quoted by Focus.
“I must have bumped into something in the bathroom and fell,” writes the Pope Emeritus. A doctor was able to ensure that the wounds were not visible and a new personal physician is said to have insisted on prescribing a “sleeping pill reduction” after this incident and advised the pope to only appear in the mornings on his trips abroad.
The Pope Emeritus explains in his letter that he is aware that these medical restrictions “may only be sustainable for a short time” and this observation led him to resign in February 2013, a few months before WYD in Rio, which he believes after not being able to “overcome” the case. He therefore resigned early enough for his successor, Pope Francis, to honor this visit to Brazil.