Pope is frail, not ill, faced no pressure to resign: Vatican

ROME Mon Feb 11, 2013 8:00am EST

ROME (Reuters) - Pope Benedict has no specific illness and his decision to resign was taken with no outside pressure, the Vatican spokesman said on Monday after the pontiff's shock announcement that he would step down at the end of this month.

Father Federico Lombardi said the 85 year-old pope's decision was not due to an illness but to a progressive decline in his strength which was normal in a man of his age.

"In the last few months he has seen a decline in vigor, both of the body and spirit," Lombardi told reporters. "It was his personal decision taken with full freedom, which deserves maximum respect," he added.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella, writing by Gavin Jones)