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Pope Francis admits he could retire from papacy over health concerns

Pope Francis admits he could retire from papacy over health concerns

P

ope Francis has hinted that he could retire if his failing health made it impossible for him to be the head of the Catholic Church.

Francis, 85, has struggled with his mobility and has been forced to use a wheelchair after suffering from strained ligaments in his right knee for several months.

He has now admitted that he can no longer travel like he used to, adding that his recent week-long Canadian pilgrimage was “a bit of a test” that showed he needs to slow down and one day possibly retire.

Speaking to reporters while traveling home from northern Nunavut, Francis stressed that he hadn’t thought about resigning but said “the door is open” and there was nothing wrong with a pope stepping down.

“It’s not strange. It’s not a catastrophe. You can change the Pope,” he said while sitting in an airplane wheelchair during a 45-minute news conference.

Francis said that while he hadn’t considered resigning until now, he realises he has to at least slow down.

“I think at my age and with these limitations, I have to save (my energy) to be able to serve the church, or on the contrary, think about the possibility of stepping aside,” he said.

Francis was peppered with questions about the future of his pontificate following the first trip in which he used a wheelchair, walker and cane to get around, sharply limiting his program and ability to mingle with crowds.

He strained his right knee ligaments earlier this year, and continuing laser and magnetic therapy forced him to cancel a trip to Africa that was scheduled for the first week of July.

The Canada trip was difficult, and featured several moments when Francis was clearly in pain as he maneuvered getting up and down from chairs.

Francis ruled out having surgery on his knee, saying it would not necessarily help and noting “there are still traces” from the effects of having undergone more than six hours of anesthesia in July 2021 to remove 33 centimeters (13 inches) of his large intestine.

“I’ll try to continue to do the trips and be close to people because I think it’s a way of servicing, being close. But more than this, I can’t say,” he said on Saturday.

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