This same rumor was put forward repeatedly during the last decade of the pontificate of John Paul II - can anything like it be taken seriously? From Antonio Socci, writing for Italian daily Libero (mentioned by Andrea Tornielli for La Stampa).
Papal resignation… Let us pray that God may preserve him for us for a long time
25 September 2011
For the moment, it is a rumor (a personal hypothesis of Joseph Ratzinger) and I hope it will never become news. Yet, because it circulates in the most important halls of the Vatican, it deserves great attention.
In a word: the Pope does not exclude the possibility of resigning when turning 85, that is, in April 2012.
[UPDATE:] - (Reuters) - The Vatican dismissed an Italian newspaper report on Sunday that Pope Benedict was considering resigning next year when he turns 85.
"The pope's health is excellent," Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said. "We don't know anything about it. Ask the person who wrote it."