Pope Francis admitted he needed to slow down, telling reporters after a six-day trip to Canada that he couldn’t keep up his pace of international travel – and may have to consider retirement.
“I don’t think I can go at the same pace I used to travel,” said the 85-year-old Pope, who has knee pain that has seen him increasingly lean on A wheelchair.
“I think at my age and with this limitation, I need to save myself a bit so I can serve the Church. Or, alternatively, consider retiring.”
It is not the first time that Pope Francis has raised the possibility of following the example of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned due to his own failing health in 2013, and now lives quietly in the City of Vatican.
In 2014, a year into his pontificate, Pope Francis told reporters that if his health interfered with his duties as pope, he would consider resigning.
“The door is open, that’s one of the normal options, but so far I haven’t knocked on that door,” he said on Saturday.
“But that doesn’t mean the day after tomorrow I won’t start thinking, does it? But right now, honestly, no.
“Also this trip was a bit of an ordeal. It’s true that you can’t make trips in this state, you may have to change the style a bit, reduce, repay the debts of the trips that he you still have to do, and rearrange
“But the Lord will tell. The door is open, it’s true.”
I will try to continue to travel and to be close to people, because I think it is a form of service, of proximity.
The comments come after intense speculation over the future of Pope Francis, after he was forced to cancel a series of events due to knee pain, including a trip to Africa planned earlier this month.
The conversation was also fueled by his decision to convene an extraordinary consistory for August 27, a slow summer month at the Vatican, to create 21 new cardinals – 16 of whom will be under 80, eligible to elect his successor in the future. conclave.
Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to resign sent shock waves through the Catholic Church. He was the first pope to step down since the Middle Ages, but the precedent is now set.
“In all honesty, it’s not a disaster, it’s possible to change the pope, it’s possible to change, no problem! But I think I have to limit myself a bit to these efforts,” said Pope Francis on Saturday.
He primarily used a wheelchair during his trip to Canada, where he issued a historic apology for decades of abuse of Indigenous children in Catholic Church-run residential schools.
But he got up in his “popemobile” to greet the crowds.
Pope Francis said knee surgery was not an option, adding that he was still feeling the effects of six hours under anesthetic last summer when he underwent colon surgery.
“You don’t play, you don’t joke with anesthesia,” he said.
But he added: “I will try to continue to travel and be close to people, because I think it is a way of serving, of being close.”
Pope Francis recently made a six-day trip to Canada. Credit: VATICAN/EPA MEDIA RELEASE
Pope Francis still hopes to postpone his postponed trip to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“But it will be next year, because of the rainy season – let’s see: I have all the good will, but let’s see what the leg says,” he joked.
The Argentine pontiff repeated that he would like to visit war-torn Ukraine, but gave no details on the status of his plans.
He has another trip abroad planned for a religious congress in Kazakhstan in September.
“For now, I would like to go: it’s a quiet trip, without too much movement,” the pope said.