BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday she had the “very highest respect” for German-born Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to step down – a move that the pontiff’s brother said he had been considering for months amid ailing health.

Georg Ratzinger, 89, told the dpa news agency at his home in Regensburg that his brother had been advised by his doctor not to take any more transatlantic trips and was having increasing difficulty walking.

“His age is weighing on him,” Ratzinger said of his 85-year-old brother, Pope Benedict XVI who announced earlier in the day he would resign Feb. 28. “At this age my brother wants more rest.”

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