Pope: “If I resigned, I would stay in Rome as bishop emeritus”

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In an interview with Televisa Univision’s ViX streaming service, Pope Francis discusses his health and the possibility of stepping down, as well as the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the fight against child abuse.

By Vatican News

“I have no intention of resigning, not yet.”

Pope Francis gave this assurance in an extensive interview with Mexican journalists Maria Antonieta Collins and Valentina Alazraki with Televisa Univision’s ViX streaming service.

In an excerpt from the interview posted on Univision’s YouTube channel Noticias, the pope talks about his health and rumors circulating in recent weeks that he will be renouncing the Petrine ministry.

“At the moment I don’t feel like the Lord is asking me to,” Pope Francis said. “If I felt he was asking me, then yes.”

He then called it a “coincidence” that he would travel to the Italian town of L’Aquila, where Pope Celestine V is buried, during the next Consistory of Cardinals in late August.

Health

Regarding the condition of his knee, the pope stressed that, although he feels “limited”, he also thinks he is “improving”.

However, he added, the trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo “definitely” could not have happened.

“I didn’t have the strength,” he explained. “Now, 20 days later, progress has been made.”

He then recalled the “great example given by Benedict XVI” which, according to him, will help him “to make a decision” if he had to resign.

Pope Francis also expressed his “great appreciation” for the pope emeritus, saying he is “a man who supports the Church with his kindness and his retreat” from prayer. And he shared that he felt joy every time he visited the Pope Emeritus at Mater Ecclesiae Monastery.

Resignation guesses

Responding to a question about the possibility of issuing rules regarding the figure of a pope emeritus, Pope Francis noted that “history itself will help regulate better.”

“The first experience went very well”, he says, because Benedict XVI “is a holy and discreet man”.

Going forward, however, he added, “it would be better to define things or explain them better.”

Speaking of his own possible resignation, Pope Francis replied that he would not return to Argentina.

“I am the bishop of Rome. In this case, I would be the bishop emeritus of Rome,” he said, adding that he could stay at St. John Lateran.

The pope recalled that before the conclave, he had already prepared his retirement as archbishop emeritus of Buenos Aires. He said it would have been important for him “to hear confessions and visit the sick”.

This would have been his “apostolate”, his “work”, he said.

“Being of service to people where you can,” he said, “is what I was thinking about in Buenos Aires.” He added that he would like to do the same now if he were ever to resign from the papacy.

World War III was fought piecemeal

In the interview, broadcast in full by Televisa Univision, the pope also touched on several other timely issues.

He recalled the ongoing pandemic and the poignant moment of the Orbis station on March 27, 2020. Pope Francis then shared his thoughts on the war in Ukraine, emphasizing that he considered it crucial to speak “of the country that is attacked rather than of the aggressors.”

He confirmed his intention to meet Russian Orthodox Patriarch Cyril in September during the interfaith event to be held in Kazakhstan.

Citing the drama of countries ravaged by violence – such as Yemen and Syria – he reiterated that the world was living a “third world war fought piecemeal”, saying that nuclear weapons “are immoral”, including their possession and not just their use.

Abortion and politics

Pope Francis has reaffirmed his condemnation of abortion, saying it is completely unjust to take human life away.

He said his position could be asserted “on the basis of scientific data” which is not negotiable.

With regard to the issue in the United States, after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the judgment rendered in Roe vs. Wade on the so-called “right” to abortion, the pope noted the polarization present in the country, reiterating that pastors must always take care of the pastoral dimension and avoid creating political problems.

The interviewer asked the pope how a priest should act in the case of a Catholic politician who supports abortion.

“I leave it to his conscience,” Pope Francis said. “He should speak with his bishop, with his pastor about this inconsistency.”

Cuba

The pope then turned to Cuba, expressing his love for the Cuban people and the country’s bishops.

He said he had friendly relations with former President Raúl Castro, saying he was satisfied with the restoration of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States during the time of the Obama presidency.

To advance

Pope Francis also spoke about his expectations for the upcoming apostolic journey to Canada under the banner of forgiveness of past wrongs.

He dwelt on the crimes of femicide, new forms of slavery, and in particular the scourge of pedophilia in the Church.

The Pope recalled the impact of the scandals in the United States, citing in particular the Pennsylvania Report.

“The lid came off the pot,” he admitted. “Today the Church is increasingly aware” of sexual abuse, calling it a monstrous crime.

The Church, he forcefully reiterated, strongly wishes to “move forward” and no longer be “accomplices” in these crimes.

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