Pope Francis says he should cut back on travel or consider retirement: ‘The door is open’

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Pope Francis did not consider resigning, but after his physical struggle during his last apostolic journey, the pontiff made it clear that he reserved the right to resign.

Pope Francis answered questions from reporters on Saturday after his historic visit to Canada promote brotherhood with native Catholics in the country. He was forced to conduct interviews in a wheelchair, which he often used in Canada.

Asked repeatedly by the press if he plans to retire, the pontiff said he has not yet considered retirement, but that Canada was a “test” of his vitality that showed he was slowing down.

“Whatever the Lord says,” Pope Francis told a French reporter. “The Lord may tell me to retire. This is the Lord’s command.”

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Pope Francis arrives to attend a public mass at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton on July 26, 2022.

Pope Francis arrives to attend a public mass at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton on July 26, 2022.
(Nathan Denette/Canadian Press via AP)

The pontiff thought: “I think that at my age and with this limitation, I should cut down a bit in order to be able to serve the Church, or, conversely, think about the possibility of stepping aside.”

This remark is notable because Pope Francis has so far denied ever considering retirement — popes traditionally serve until their deaths. Since Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is still alive and living in a converted monastery within the Vatican walls, the departure of Pope Francis will set the stage for three “popes” living in the Vatican at the same time.

However, Pope Francis seems to be trying to prevent such a situation by continuing to fulfill his duties despite the need major surgery.

“Knee surgery is not planned in my case. Specialists say yes, but there is a whole problem with anesthesia. Ten months ago I underwent more than six hours of anesthesia, and there are still traces. You don’t play, you don’t mess with anesthesia, ” he said during a press conference.

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Pope Francis arrives to celebrate an outdoor Mass at Commonwealth Stadium on Tuesday, July 26, 2022 in Edmonton, Alberta.

Pope Francis arrives to celebrate an outdoor Mass at Commonwealth Stadium on Tuesday, July 26, 2022 in Edmonton, Alberta.
(Photo by AP/Eric Gay)

At a meeting last month with more than a dozen Catholic bishops visiting the Vatican from BrazilPope Francis discussed his health and plans for the future of his reign.

The pope told visiting Archbishop Roque Paloschi that resigning as Holy See “doesn’t cross his mind,” according to a Portuguese publication. Official Vatican News Service.

However, the pope did not pretend to be healthy, reportedly telling bishops that he was facing many challenges, but that he would like to live the life God had given him to the end.

Pope Francis presides over Mass at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Canada on July 26, 2022.

Pope Francis presides over Mass at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Canada on July 26, 2022.
(AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

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Last July, Papa underwent colon surgery and was in the hospital for almost two weeks. After the operation, the pontiff regularly complained of pain in his knees and other side effects that made it difficult to move and exercise.

In recent years, the 85-year-old Pope has returned to the topic of old age and aging many times. His lessons and commentary on the reality of aging – often optimistic in nature – have taken on new strength as the pontiff battles a range of health issues while continuing his physically demanding work.