Pope Losing Ability to Walk
Vatican insiders say pontiff has degenerative joint disease
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 11, 2011 5:53 AM CST
Pope Benedict XVI delivers his blessing during a general audience he held in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican earlier this week.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

(Newser) – Pope Benedict XVI is suffering from a degenerative joint disease that is making it more and more painful for him to walk, Vatican insiders say. The 84-year-old is believed to have arthrosis, and a source says it is afflicting his knees, hips, and ankles, making it impossible for him to move for more than short distances. At a recent mass, the pope—at his own request—was wheeled to the altar on a platform designed for his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.

The pope has said he will resign if he becomes "physically, psychologically, and spiritually" incapable of handling the office. A Vatican spokesman, however, says the pope is in reasonably good shape for his age. "He is currently studying the possibility of going to Mexico and Cuba in the spring, which I think is rather more important,” the spokesman tells the Telegraph. “His state of health is fine and he is able to carry out his duties."