Is Pope Francis planning his resignation?


The pope announced the creation of new cardinals during a consistory on August 27, which will be immediately followed by a meeting of cardinals from around the world. Officially, this meeting should take stock of the recent reform of the Roman Curia, but it is also an opportunity for the cardinals to get to know each other, especially in case they are called upon to participate in a conclave.

This leads some Vaticanists to say that Francis is fashioning an assembly of electors in tune with the diversity of the universal Church, but also with his own vision of the Church.

Additionally, an announcement from the Vatican in early June reignited speculation that, while all the cardinals are in Rome, the pope will make a day-long pilgrimage to the cathedral in L’Aquila, Abruzzo, where Pope Celestine V is buried – he was a pope who resigned from office.

Faced with these rumours, the Pope insisted on informing certain Brazilian bishops about their ad limina visit in mid-June, and on July 2 to Vaticanist Philip Pullella – which was partly picked up by Reuters on July 4 – that a resignation is not on the agenda “for the moment”, insisting “No, for the moment, no. Really!”

However, he said he may resign the day his failing health renders him unable to lead the Church. Without mentioning a date: “We don’t know. God will tell.

Francis admitted to suffering a ‘little fracture’ in his knee by misstepping when one of the ligaments was already inflamed, but he assured Philip Pullella: ‘I’m slowly getting better’, saying his fracture was healing, helped by laser therapy and magnetic therapy.

He also said he didn’t want to have knee surgery because last year’s general anesthesia [during his colon surgery] had negative side effects.

Indeed, for Colleen Dulle, journalist at the Jesuit magazine America, quoted by June 28, there are serious reasons to doubt the imminent resignation of the Pope.

The Vaticanist first gives a simple explanation for the unusual date of the consistory, which was to take place in November: the pope may be trying to save cardinals money and limit time spent outside their dioceses by combining the presbytery and the meeting in one trip.

Plus, there’s his own timeline: Despite his infirmity, Francis has planned to visit Kazakhstan in September, with further trips reportedly scheduled for 2023. While popes may pass on trips to their successors, it seems unlikely that the Argentine pontiff does not do it. intend to go there himself.

Finally, it must be taken into account that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is still alive. Francis will likely want to make some changes to the status of “retired pope” once he himself is in that position — such as adopting the title “bishop emeritus of Rome” rather than “pope emeritus.”

He wouldn’t wear white either – to dispel the idea that there are two popes. But it’s hard to imagine Francis making such moves while Benedict XVI remains pope emeritus. Other observers have also noted the danger of “confusion” and the “incongruity” that the presence of three popes in Rome would represent.

Despite everything, Colleen Dulle does not completely rule out the possibility of a resignation if “her state of health deteriorates sharply”. The journalist considers that the pontiff would only abandon his functions insofar as his mental faculties were greatly diminished. If an imminent renunciation is therefore implausible, it is not unrealistic for Francis to prepare the ground for such a development in the medium term.

“He knows he won’t live forever and is working hard to secure his legacy through Curia reform, the comprehensive synodal process (due to end in 2023) and his appointments to the College of Cardinals.”

It is precisely the question of the state of the pope’s mental health that the Argentinian blog Caminante Wanderer does not hesitate to raise on June 14, then taken up by the Vaticanist Aldo Maria Valli on June 17.

According to him, the pope’s interview with the editors of Jesuit journals in Europe on May 22, published in La Civiltà cattolica, shows that “the sovereign pontiff’s biggest problems are not his bad knee or his intestinal diverticula, but something much more serious than affects the balance of his judgment.

This compatriot of the pope sees in this interview “the symptoms of a dissociated personality. The pope speaks of bishops coming from Europe or America, as if it was not he who had brought them, as if he himself was not directly responsible for these episcopal appointments. We read, for example, this paragraph: “An Argentinian bishop told me that he had been asked to administer a diocese that had fallen into the hands of these restorers”.

“It clearly refers to the diocese of San Rafael, the only one with an apostolic administrator [Bishop Carlos María Domínguez.- Ed.] and who has a ‘restaurateur’ profile. But Francis says that this bishop “has been solicited”. Who asked him? But himself, since there is no one else who can appoint bishops or apostolic administrators but the pope of Rome, and even more so in the case of Argentina, to whom exclusive management is reserved.

Still according to Caminante Wanderer, “it is the same psychopathic disorder that leads Francis to become entangled in an elegy towards Fr. Pedro Arrupe, sj, with flowery allusions to Paul VI, without realizing (or perhaps if ) that with this he is only sullying the memory of John Paul II, who in 1981 dismissed Arrupe as Superior General of the Society, not only because of the progressive but also atheistic drift to which the “prophet” had pushed him admired by Bergoglio.

But can we, from these remarks, really speak of “dissociated personality”? The Argentinian blogger himself acknowledges that his diagnosis is that of an “amateur”, not a specialist. However, he sees in the pope’s haunting speech a paradoxically favorable opportunity for future restoration.

According to him, “the more Francis talks about Vatican II and the more he insists on it, the more this disastrous event will be hated, because it will be associated with him and with the pathetic future of his pontificate”.

“For this reason perhaps it is better to have even more patience and to pray to God that he keep the Servant of his servants on earth a little longer, so that with his clumsiness he will finish soiling everything that should to be defiled. and that his successor be facilitated in the task of putting everything back on track and “giving back” to the Church its true face, so disfigured”. – This is what politicians and sociologists call a pendulum effect.

Less political and more realistic, the Vaticanist Sandro Magister noted in his June 20 blog: “As the sun goes down in this pontificate there is great confusion under the sky, all the greater as Francis centralizes all the powers in him, as moved by the irrepressible anguish of doing by itself what the incapable “institution” does not do”.

And he reveals: “To an Argentinian priest friend whom he met in Santa Marta in recent days, the pope confided that he was reading the last [posthumous] book by the late Jesuit Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini [1927-2012 ]Night talk in Jerusalem [Bayard, 2013]and that he fully subscribes to the thesis: “The Church is 200 years behind”.

“Francis’ concern is close to himself, in his last years as pope, of this gap of two centuries behind in the Church. With obvious effects for all. – This fixed idea of ​​Pope Francis is easily observable and difficult to contest.


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