Pope insists resigning is 'NOT on my mind' after health fears

Pope insists resigning is ‘NOT on my mind’ after speculation mounted that he was considering stepping down due to health issues

  • Wheelchair-bound Francis has vowed not to resign after cancelling foreign trip
  • Pope called rare meeting of cardinals, prompting rumours he would leave Rome
  • Francis, 85, joked at recent Vatican meeting: ‘Rather than operate, I’ll resign’ 
  • Pontiff tells weekly audience: ‘We must listen to the body and accept its limits’

Pope Francis has slapped down rumours that he would resign amid a flurry of health issues, vowing to serve as pontiff for ‘as long as God allows’.

Francis, 85, cancelled a trip to Africa last week due to mobility concerns, prompting fears for his health.

He also told a meeting of priests in Rome last week: ‘Rather than operate, I’ll resign.’

But the Catholic church leader poured cold water on talk of resignation, reportedly telling Brazilian bishops in a meeting yesterday: ‘I want to live my mission as long as God allows me and that’s it.’

Archbishop Roque Paloschi added that the Pope reassured the clergy meeting that ‘resignation does not cross his mind’, according to a  Portuguese translation of the Vatican newsletter.

Pope Francis (pictured yesterday) has been wheelchair-bound due to issues with his knee

Monsignor Lúcio Nicoletto added that he was wowed by the Pope’s ‘great strength’ at the meeting. 

Francis had told his weekly general audience on Wednesday: ‘When we are old, we cannot do the same things we did when we were young.

‘The body has another pace, and we must listen to the body and accept its limits.

‘We all have them. I too have to use a walking stick now.’

Earlier this month a cardinal said talk of the Pope’s resignation amounted to ‘fake news’ and a ‘cheap soap opera’.

Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga said: ‘He has never thought about it.’

The Argentine spent 11 days in hospital last summer to have part of his colon removed.

Initially planned to be a week-long stay, the hospitalisation was prolonged for extra ‘medical and rehabilitative therapy’, his spokesman said in July 2021.

The pope told a Spanish radio station at the time that quitting ‘hadn’t even crossed my mind’.

Francis has struggled with knee pain, but has insisted he won’t have an operation.

In 2013 Pope Benedict became the first pontiff to resign since 1415, citing old age. 

Upon moving into the Vatican a year later, the pope said he would consider doing the same if his health dictated: ‘He opened a door, the door to retired popes.’

But a Church source told AFP this week: ‘In the pope’s entourage, the majority of people don’t really believe in the possibility of a resignation.’

Vatican expert Marco Politi added: ‘These rumours are encouraged by the pope’s opponents who are only eager to see Francis leave.’

Francis said in 2014 that Benedict ‘opened the door’ to the notion that popes could resign

Mr Politi said of the latest rumours: ‘At this stage, it is a question of being realistic and not alarmist.’

He said it was ‘hard to imagine’ Francis would resign while the Synod of Bishops council – set to conclude in 2023 – is ongoing.

Alberto Melloni, a professor of Christianity and secretary of the John XXIII Foundation for Religious Sciences in Bologna, told AFP such talk is ‘preposterous’.

‘These are things in which there is a desire to understand, to speculate, but there is little to say,’ he said.

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