Pope Francis, 85, hints again that he will RETIRE saying ‘It’s not a catastrophe, you can change the pope’ as he says strained knee ligaments are stopping him travelling
- The Pope said it’s ‘not a catastrophe’ should he retire as head of Catholic Church
- Health issues have affected his mobility and he can no longer travel as he used to
- ‘It’s not strange, you can change the pope,’ said the 85-year-old Francis
- He spoke after his Canada trip, where he apologised to Indigenous communities
The Pope has said it is ‘not a catastrophe’ should he retire as head of the Catholic Church due to health issues that have affected his mobility.
Pope Francis, 85, acknowledged Saturday that he can no longer travel like he used to because of his strained knee ligaments.
He was speaking after a weeklong pilgrimage to Canada in which he apologised to Indigenous peoples for the injustices they suffered in Canada’s church-run residential schools.
The pontiff described the trip as ‘a bit of a test’ that showed he needs to slow down and one day possibly retire.
‘It’s not strange. It’s not a catastrophe. You can change the pope,’ he said while sitting in an airplane wheelchair during a 45-minute news conference.
The 85-year-old Francis stressed that he hadn’t thought about resigning, he realises he has to at least slow down.
But he added that ‘the door is open’ and there was nothing wrong with a pope stepping down.
Pope Francis, 85, spoke to reporters on his plane journey to the Vatican from Canada, where he admitted he might retire
He was speaking after a weeklong pilgrimage to Canada in which he Indigenous peoples for the injustices they suffered in Canada’s church-run residential schools
Francis said earlier in the month that the retirement of his predecessor – Pope Emeritus Benedict – had gone ‘rather well’ and that he could also retire ‘if the time is right’ and ‘if I survive’.
‘I think at my age and with these limitations, I have to save (my energy) to be able to serve the church, or on the contrary, think about the possibility of stepping aside,’ he said.
Francis was peppered with questions about the future of his pontificate following the first trip in which he used a wheelchair, walker and cane to get around, sharply limiting his program and ability to mingle with crowds.
He strained his right knee ligaments earlier this year, and continuing laser and magnetic therapy forced him to cancel a trip to Africa that was scheduled for the first week of July.
The Canada trip was difficult, and featured several moments when Francis was clearly in pain as he manoeuvred getting up and down from chairs.
At the end of his six-day tour, he appeared in good spirits and energetic, despite a long day travelling to the edge of the Arctic on Friday to again apologise to Indigenous peoples for the injustices they suffered in Canada’s church-run residential schools.
Francis ruled out having surgery on his knee, saying it would not necessarily help and noting ‘there are still traces’ from the effects of having undergone more than six hours of anaesthesia in July 2021 to remove 33cm (13 inches) of his large intestine.
‘I’ll try to continue to do the trips and be close to people because I think it’s a way of servicing, being close. But more than this, I can’t say,’ he said Saturday.
Much of the Canadian pilgrimage was dominated by Pope Francis’ efforts to apologise to Canada’s indigenous communities. Pictured: Francis during a meeting with indigenous people in the primary school square of Iqaluit, the capital of the Canadian territory of Nunavut yesterday
Francis, left, wears a traditional headdress he was given after his apology to Indigenous people during a ceremony in Maskwacis, Alberta on July 25
Indigenous women wearing “Every Child Matters” on their clothes, wait for the arrival of Pope Francis at Nakasuk school in Iqaluit, Nunavut, yesterday. The Pope agreed that the attempt to eliminate Indigenous culture in Canada through a church-run residential school system amounted to a cultural ‘genocide.’
Much of the Canadian pilgrimage was dominated by Pope Francis’ efforts to apologise to Canada’s indigenous communities.
He agreed that the attempt to eliminate Indigenous culture in Canada through a church-run residential school system amounted to a cultural ‘genocide.’
Francis said he didn’t use the term during his Canada trip because it didn’t come to mind.
Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission determined in 2015 that the forced removal of Indigenous children from their homes and placement in church-run residential schools to assimilate them into Christian, Canadian constituted a ‘cultural genocide.’
‘It’s true I didn’t use the word because it didn’t come to mind, but I described genocide, no?’ Francis said. ‘I apologised, I asked forgiveness for this work, which was genocide.’
Francis noted that church teaching on atomic weapons was modified during his pontificate to consider not only the use but the mere possession of atomic weapons as immoral and to consider the death penalty immoral in all cases.
Meanwhile, Francis confirmed he hoped to travel to Kazakhstan in mid-September for an interfaith conference where he might meet with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, who has justified the war in Ukraine.
Francis also said he wants to go to Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, though no trip has yet been confirmed.
He said he hoped to reschedule the trip to South Sudan he cancelled because of his knee problems. He said the Congo leg of that trip would probably have to be put off until next year because of the rainy season.
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