Pope Francis acknowledged on Saturday that he needs to slow down, telling reporters after a six-day trip to Canada that he cannot keep up his international travel pace and may need to consider retiring.
“I don’t think I can move at the same pace that I traveled before,” said the 85-year-old dad, who suffers from knee pain that has made him increasingly dependent on a wheelchair.
“I think that at my age and with this limitation, I have to save myself a little in order to be able to serve the Church. Or, on the contrary, think about the possibility of stepping aside.
This is not the first time Francis has raised the issue of following the example of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who retired in 2013 due to ill health and now lives quietly in the Vatican.
In 2014, a year after he became pope, Francis told reporters that if his health prevented him from serving as pope, he would consider resigning.
In May, Italian media reported that Francis joked about his knee during a closed-door meeting with bishops, saying: “Instead of operating, I will retire.”
“The door is open, it’s one of the normal options, but I haven’t knocked on that door so far,” he said on Saturday.
“But that doesn’t mean that the day after tomorrow I won’t start thinking, right? But now I honestly don’t.
“So this trip was kind of a test. It’s true that you can’t travel in this state, you should perhaps change your style a little, reduce, pay off the debts of trips that you have yet to take, readjust.
“But the Lord will say. The door is open, it’s true.
The comments come after intense speculation about Francis’ future after he was forced to cancel a number of events due to knee pain, including a trip to Africa scheduled for earlier this month.
Talk was also fueled by his decision to convene an extraordinary consistory for August 27, the slow summer month in the Vatican, to appoint 21 new cardinals, 16 of whom will be under 80, allowing for the election of his successor in the future. conclave
Benedict’s decision to leave caused shock in the Catholic Church. He was the first pope to retire since the Middle Ages, but the precedent has now been set.
“Honestly, this is not a disaster, you can change dad, you can change, no problem! But I think I should limit myself a little in these efforts,” Francis said on Saturday.
He primarily used a wheelchair during his trip to Canada, where he made a historic apology for decades of abuse of indigenous children in boarding schools run by the Catholic Church.
But he got up in his Popemobile to greet the crowd.
Francis said surgery on his knee was not an option, adding that he is still feeling the effects of six hours spent under anesthesia last summer when he underwent colon surgery.
“You don’t play, you don’t mess around with anesthesia,” he said.
But he added, “I’ll try to keep going on trips and being close to people because I think it’s a way of serving, intimacy.”
Francis is still hoping to reschedule his postponed trip to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“But it will be next year, because of the rainy season – we’ll see: I have all the good will, but we’ll see what the leg says,” he joked.
The Argentine pontiff reiterated that he would like to visit war-torn Ukraine, but did not give details of his plans.
He has another foreign trip planned for a religious congress in Kazakhstan in September.
“At the moment, I would like to go: it’s a calm trip, without much traffic,” Papa said.