Pope Francis, 86, says quitting is not 'on my agenda'

Pope Francis, 86, says quitting is not ‘on my agenda’ weeks after revealing he has already penned a resignation letter in case his health declines and he can no longer lead the Church

  • Pope said papal resignations should not become the norm after Benedict XVI
  • Read more: Hero from London Bridge attack might be a saint after rule change 

Pope Francis has said quitting is ‘not on my agenda’ after admitting writing a resignation letter in case of severe illness.  

But the resignation of a pope should not become the norm within the Catholic Church, the 86-year-old pontiff added.

The Bishop of Rome has been suffering with knee problems in recent months and has been regularly pictured in a wheelchair. 

Pope Francis gained the headship of the Catholic Church after the resignation of Benedict XVI in 2013 due to his ‘advanced age’.  

But despite the health concerns, the Pope said he believes the Catholic office is one a person should hold for life and cited ‘historical traditions’.  

Pope Francis, 86, revealed that soon after his election in 2013 he submitted a resignation letter that would take effect should illness prevent him from fulfilling his duties

Pope Francis (pictured on December 3) has used a cane during recent public appearances after a several months in a wheelchair due to knee issues

Pope Francis said he had written a resignation letter two months after becoming pope in 2013 in case of future health problems. 

‘However, this does not at all mean that resigning popes should become, let’s say, a ‘fashion’, a normal thing,’ said Francis in an interview in the magazine Civilta Cattolica.

The Pope made the comments on February 2 during a question and answer session with 82 Jesuits as part of his recent visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Francis cited the surprise resignation in 2013 of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who ‘had the courage to do it because he did not feel up to continuing due to his health’.

‘I, for the moment, do not have that on my agenda. I believe that the pope’s ministry is “ad vitam” [Latin for ‘for life’],’ Francis said, adding that ‘historical tradition’ was important.

Francis has previously acknowledged that he could step down should his health require it.

Pope Francis (left) became the Bishop of Rome after the surprise resignation in 2013 of his predecessor, Benedict XVI (right)

In December, the Pope said: ‘In practice there is already a rule. I have already signed my renunciation.’

‘I signed it and said, “If I should become impaired for medical reasons or whatever, here is my resignation. Here you have it,”‘ he said, referring to Cardinal Bertone, to whom the letter was given. 

His recent health problems have only fuelled speculation he may resign at some point. Francis made reference to that speculation in the interview.

‘If, on the other hand, we are listening to the “chatter”, well, then we should change popes every six months!’

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