Despite rumours that he had been thinking about stepping down, Pope Francis stated during an interview last week that he had no plans to step down as head of the Roman Catholic Church.
Francis denied on Saturday that he had any intention of stepping down as pope, according to Reuters. Francis claimed to have “never entered my mind” to consider resigning.
After the Vatican revealed in June that Francis will not be travelling to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan this month as had been planned, some people have speculated that a papal resignation may be imminent.
The Vatican stated in that statement that Francis was acting in accordance with the advice of his physicians regarding a “small fracture” in his knee that had been causing him difficulty and necessitated the use of a wheelchair on some public occasions.
On the other hand, he did say that he is improving and making progress.
Some have even speculated that Francis was suffering from cancer after it was purportedly diagnosed after treatment last year. In July 2021, the pope underwent surgery for diverticular stenosis of the sigmoid region of his colon.
However, Pope Francis told Reuters that his supposed cancer diagnosis was news to him, joking that his physicians “didn’t tell me anything.” He continued to describe the surgery from the previous year as a “fantastic success” in the interview.
Additionally, resignation speculations were also encouraged with the revelation that Francis will visit L’Aquila in central Italy in late August for the “Feast of Forgiveness.”
The city of L’Aquila is the location of the grave of St. Celestine V, who was pope for five months in 1294 before resigning. In 2009, four years before he became the first pope in close to 600 years to resign, Pope Benedict XVI visited L’Aquila and left the pallium he wore during his papal installation mass on top of Celestine’s tomb. After his departure in 2013, some speculated if Benedict’s gesture was a clue he was considering stepping down.
The visit to L’Aquila comes a day after Francis is due to select 21 new cardinals, who will be able to pick a new pope. The day after the visit, Francis is set to hold a two-day summit with cardinals to consider a new Vatican constitution.
During his interview, Francis refuted the suggestion that these occurrences constitute a forerunner to his departure.
“All of these coincidences made some think that the same ‘liturgy’ would happen. But it never entered my mind. For the moment no, for the moment, no. Really!” he told Reuters.
While Pope Francis will not be travelling to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, there are other international excursions on the 85-year-calendar. old’s Francis is set to fly to Canada later this month.
The pope’s Canadian journey will stretch from July 24-29 and includes planned stops in Edmonton, Quebec City and Iqaluit, the northernmost city in Canada.
Also, Francis said that he would also like to visit two locations that have been in the news as of late, including one city that has never hosted a papal visit.
“And now it is possible after I come back from Canada, it is possible that I manage to go to Ukraine. The first thing is to go to Russia to try to help in some way, but I would like to go to both capitals,” Pope Francis told Reuters. If the visit is scheduled, it will mark the first time ever that a pope has been to Moscow.