Pope Francis assured this Saturday that he does not rule out resigning from the pontificate, although he has made it clear that he is not currently considering it. “A change of pope would not be catastrophic,” the Argentine pope told reporters flying with him from Canada to Rome, where he had spent six days with a busy schedule. “The door is open, that’s one of the normal possibilities, but to this day I haven’t knocked on that door, I haven’t said, ‘I’m going to enter this room.’ I didn’t even want to think about that possibility. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t start thinking about it the day after tomorrow,” he specified.
Bergoglio, 85, has also acknowledged that knee problems make it difficult for him to walk, forcing him to reduce his activity level, particularly in relation to the grueling pace of papal travel. “I don’t think I can drive the same pace as before. That’s what I think at my age and with this limitation [la lesión de rodilla] I need some strength to serve the Church. Or I could also consider resigning, which honestly wouldn’t be a catastrophe as the pope can easily be changed,” he stressed.
In Canada, the Pope kept the planned agenda of visits to three regions, despite using a wheelchair and being exhausted and having difficulty getting up. “I have to tone down that effort a bit,” he admitted, before clarifying that his intention was “to travel further and be close to the people” because for him it was “a way of serving.” Francis has a trip to Kazakhstan scheduled for mid-September and is considering visiting Ukraine in the coming weeks. “I have all good will but let’s see what the leg says,” he added.
While the Holy See’s official medical reports are limited and provide little explanation, the Pope has spoken about his health issues in the first person, stating that he will not undergo surgery to relieve his knee pain due to a problem with anesthesia , caused by acute knee pain due to cartilage wear and a microfracture due to poor posture due to a ligament problem. “The experts say it’s operable, but the problem is the anesthesia. I was under anesthesia for more than six hours in July last year and the effects are still there to this day. You can’t play with anesthesia. That’s why this operation is not convenient for me,” stressed Francisco, referring to the colon operation he underwent last year.
Speculations about a possible resignation of the Pope have been loud in recent weeks, not only because of knee problems that have left him in a wheelchair and forced him, among other things, to cancel his ambitious trip to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is scheduled for the beginning of this year month was planned. Also because he convened a large consistory in August, with which he will finally ensure that the majority of the college of cardinals who will elect the next pope – and decide on the future of the church – have been appointed by him. Another fact that has also raised suspicions is the visit he has planned for the same month to the Italian city of L’Aquila to attend the pardon ceremony, a ceremony organized by Celestine V, the first pope who resigned his office, was brought into being in 1294 in which Benedict XVI. was inspired to his historic resignation. He made the decision at the age of 85, shortly after confirming during a 2012 visit to Mexico that the armed forces would not accompany him to continue making apostolic journeys, an essential task for popes.
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Both Francisco and his closest circle have always denied that he intends to resign, but on this occasion Bergoglio himself spoke openly on the subject for the first time, pretending that the moment might be a little closer. “This final decision is dictated by the will of the Lord. If the Lord tells you to go into the corner, go into the corner,” he emphasized. However, he has clarified that he has not felt “that call” yet.
The Pope has recognized that the trip to Canada, with numerous internal displacements, was a test for his armed forces. “It’s true that you can’t travel in this state, maybe you should change your style a bit, lose weight, pay off the debt of the trips you still have to make, reorder…” he said. The Pope traveled to the North American country to apologize for abuses by the Catholic Church in boarding schools for indigenous communities in the 19th and 20th centuries under a state policy known as “forced assimilation”.