They speculate about the resignation of Pope Francis due to health problems

The fragile state of Health of Pope Franciscowho postponed his trip to Africa, feeds the rumors about a possible resignationbut experts caution against taking it for granted.

His visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan, scheduled for early July, has been postponed indefinitely, and many wonder if he will be able to fulfill his trip to Canadaat the end of that month, after seeing him making funny faces pain for some public appearances.

The Vatican says the trip to Canada will remain “until further notice.”

Since the beginning of May, Francisco, 85, has used a wheelchair or a cane, weakened by severe pain in his right knee.

To alleviate it, he regularly receives injections and physiotherapy sessions, according to the Vatican, which is keeping a low profile about his health.

The treatment “follows its course and is bearing fruit,” says a Vatican source.

However, these rare last-minute changes to the Holy See’s agenda have reignited concerns about Jorge Bergoglio’s ability to govern and sparked rumors of a possible resignation.

This theory returns cyclically, considered the Italian Vaticanist Marco Politi, author of the book “Francis, the plague and the Renaissance.”

These rumors are fueled by the Pope’s opponents who only want to see Francis leave,” he said.

In 2014, the pontiff himself contributed to fueling the hypothesis, considering that Benedict XVI had “opened a door” by resigning from office.

Collaborators of the Pope help him to take a seat in the Vatican. (Photo: Reuters)

“Media Frenzy”

Some experts nuance the possibility of a next exit.

In the Pope’s entourage, most do not believe much in the possibility of a resignation,” a Vatican source said.

From the moment it begins to be said that the Pope is very ill, many years can pass: John Paul II’s illness began in 1993 and ended in 2005, recalled Alberto Melloni, historian of Christianity and secretary of the Religious Sciences Foundation. .

They are things in which there is a desire to understand, to speculate, but there is little to say,” he added.

He valued an “excessive media frenzy around the Pope and the Church.”

Francisco’s state of health had already fueled speculation when he underwent a colon operation in July 2021.

The pontiff suffers from chronic sciatica and had to remove part of a lung in his youth.

Under John Paul II, the progress of the disease was very visible, there were questions for years and there was also often false news,” recalled Father Federico Lombardi, former director of the Holy See press office.

Francis bows his head during a ceremony in Saint Peter’s Square. (Photo: Reuters)

With Benedict XVI, it was rather the weakness of age that progressed and led him to resign, gradually, he added, referring to the pope emeritus, who is now 95 years old and lives in a Vatican monastery.

very busy schedule

In September 2021, Francisco – who continues to receive political or religious leaders every morning – had ironized about the rumours.

I am still “alive although some want me dead,” he said at the time.

But three events fuel the rumors, including the August 27 consistory that will appoint new cardinals, including future electors in the event of a conclave, a very unusual time for this event.

The Pope will then gather the world’s cardinals in Rome and visit the tomb of Celestine V, the first pontiff to resign in the 13th century, in L’Aquila.

This unprecedented conjunction intrigues the Italian and international press and some see it as an opportunity for the Pope to announce his decision.

For now, it’s about being realistic and not alarmist,” Marco Politi added.

According to him, this meeting could also be a simple “moment for general discussion on the reform of the Curia”, the Vatican government, made official by the entry into force of a new “Constitution” at the beginning of June.

Another central issue for Francis is the World Synod of Bishops, a broad consultation on the organization of the Church that will end in 2023.

This event “is almost a mini-council: so it seems difficult to imagine that the pope wants to leave half this great project that he himself has decided,” said Politi, who also pointed out the difficulty of having three popes in the Vatican.

The Pope greets the faithful in Saint Peter’s Square. (Photo: Reuters)


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