In an exclusive interview, the Catholic Church's highest official laughed off rumors that he is planning to resign any time soon and instead revealed plans lined up in the upcoming months.
Reuters reported Saturday that rumors of the Pope's resignation circulated in the media last month in line with events scheduled this August. In particular, this involved his plans to celebrate the feast of Pope Celestine V in L'Aquila, the Italian city Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI went to four years before resigning from the papacy. Pope Celestine V also happened to resign in 1294 from the papacy.
The announcement to go to L'Aquila came after two actions from Pope Francis. First, he appointed 21 new cardinals for a consistory that will also be held in August. Speculations of his resignation surfaced because 83% of the new cardinals are eligible to vote for a new pope. Second, he also announced that a two-day briefing will be conducted on the cardinals regarding his newly-released apostolic constitution, which is an operation manual on the Holy See.
In addition to these events, the pope's failing health led to the cancellation of his international trips, such as one to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which also fueled the rumors.
Debunking The Rumors
Pope Francis dismissed the rumors during the interview and pointed to the events that fueled it as mere coincidence. He underscored that resigning from the pontificate was not part of his plans in the near future, which included trips to Moscow and Ukraine in September “to serve the cause of peace.”
"All of these coincidences made some think that the same 'liturgy' would happen. But it never entered my mind. For the moment no, for the moment, no. Really!" Pope Francis said.
However, the 85-year-old pontiff did reiterate his position of resigning in the future should his health fully prevent him from running the Church. As to when that would be, he disclosed he doesn't know because only "God will say."
Rome Reports said Pope Francis' statements during the interview echo what he said in a previous meeting he held with a group of Brazilian cardinals in the Vatican. Brazil's Porto Velho Bishop Roque Paloschi told the media outlet that the Pope mentioned to them that there was a lot of talk in the press that he would resign. Roque said the pontiff emphasized that he does "not remember saying that" because it has never crossed his mind and he wants to "finish the mission" entrusted to him "until the end."
The Pope's Health Condition & Stand On Abortion
As per Reuters, Pope Francis was unaccompanied by aides-except for a cane he used to move about-during his 90-minute interview. The media outlet highlighted that the pontiff was alert, at ease, and joked a lot in response to the various interview questions.
Pope Francis went on to reveal for the first time the true condition of his health. The pontiff explained that he agreed to doctors to cancel the trips because he needed to undergo 20 more days of rest and therapy for his right knee, which if not taken may also cause the cancelation of his Canada trip on July 24-30. His right knee suffered "a small fracture" from a misstep he took at a time he was suffering an inflamed ligament.
But Pope Francis joked that he is still alive and is now slowly getting better thanks to magnet and laser therapy that speeds up the knitting of the fracture. He also joked about being not told he had cancer when he underwent a colon operation last year as a means to rebuke rumors about it. He also disclosed plans of
The interview also delved a little into the U.S. Supreme Court's decision overruling Roe v. Wade last June 24. Pope Francis reiterated his opposition to abortion, which he has condemned several times in his pontificate that began in 2013.
As per Vatican News, the pontiff expressed respect for the Supreme Court's decision during his interview with Reuters conducted by Philip Pullela. Pope Francis explained that he does not understand the details of the Supreme Court's 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade. He stressed he could not comment on the court's decision being "right or wrong from a judicial point of view" since he has not read it yet. He would have to study both the court's past and present rulings to "understand it from a technical point of view."