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Pope Francis denied rumors of his imminent resignation and explained that he plans to visit Canada this month, and then hopes to go to Moscow and Kyiv.
A series of events in late August, including meetings with world cardinals to discuss a new Vatican constitution and a visit to the Italian city of L’Aquila, could signal a resignation in the near future, according to media reports.
L’Aquila is associated with Pope Celestine V who retired in 1294. Pope Benedict XVI visited the city four years before his resignation in 2013.
“All these coincidences have led some to think that there will be the same “liturgy,” Francis said in a recent interview with Reuters. “But that never crossed my mind. Not at the moment, not at the moment. Truth!”
But Francis said, as he had repeatedly said, that someday he might retire if ill health prevented him from leading the church.
When asked when he thought that time would come, he said, “We don’t know. God will say.”
Francis also addressed ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. He said that there had been a conversation between Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about a possible trip to Moscow.
No pope has ever visited Moscow, and Francis has repeatedly criticized Russia for his invasion of Ukraine. Last week, Francis accused Moscow of waging a “cruel and senseless war of aggression” against his neighbor.
The Vatican originally asked for a visit months ago, but according to Francis, Moscow said now was not the right time.
However, Francis suggested that a trip might now be more likely.
“I would like to go [to Ukraine]”and I wanted to go to Moscow first,” he said. “We exchanged messages about it, because I thought that if the Russian president would give me a small window to serve the cause of peace…”
“And now, perhaps, after I return from Canada, I may be able to go to Ukraine,” he continued. “The first thing to do is to go to Russia to try to help in some way, but I would like to visit both capitals.”
Francis also referred to a recent United States Supreme Court the ruling which overturned Roe v. Wade. He said that he respects the decision of the court, but is not knowledgeable enough to talk about the legal side of the controversial issue.
He is strong convicted abortioncomparing it to “hiring a hit man”.
“I ask: is it legal, is it right to destroy human life to solve the problem?” he said.
The teachings of the Catholic Church say that life begins at conception.
Reuters contributed to this report.