Pope Francis recently decided to hold a Consistory (a formal meeting of the College of Cardinals) on August 27 to appoint new cardinals, and since those cardinals would be part of the assembly that would pick the 85-year-old pontiff’s successor, people took notice, and the rumors started flying.
To remind you, Pope Francis came to power after his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, resigned from his office on February 28, 2013. It made him the first pope to relinquish the office since Gregory XII was forced out in 1415, and the first pope to voluntarily resign since Celestine V in 1294. Benedict XVI was 86 when he retired (he is 95 today).
By the way, do you know of any other uses for Roman numerals other than major wars, popes, and Super Bowls?
For the record: Pope Francis denies the rumors. In an interview with Televisa Univision, he reassured his millions of believers: “I have no intention of resigning, not for the moment.”
He talked about his health and the rumors circulating in recent weeks that he would renounce the Petrine ministry and go home.
“At the moment, I don’t feel that the Lord is asking this of me,” Pope Francis reiterated. “If I felt He was asking this of me, then yes.”
He said it was merely a “coincidence” that during the next Consistory of Cardinals he would be going to the Italian city of L’Aquila, where Pope Celestine V is buried. To remind you, Celestine V, known as a hermit pope, resigned in 1294 after serving only five months in office.
On the question about his setting out the boundaries of the job of Pope Emeritus, Pope Francis noted that “the first experience went very well,” because Benedict XVI “is a holy and discreet man.” But he agreed that in the future, “it would be better to define things or explain them better.”
As to his own possible resignation, Pope Francis replied that should that happen, he would not return to Argentina. “I am the Bishop of Rome. In that case, I would be the bishop emeritus of Rome,” he said.
He did prepare for his retirement as Archbishop Emeritus of Buenos Aires, saying he would want to continue to “hear confessions and visit the sick.”
Finally, the picture we picked to illustrate this report is of Pope Francis sticking a note in the Kotel on May 26, 2014. Question: can that be considered texting?