Pope Francis raised the issue of retiring from the papacy Saturday, noting that his recent six-day trip to Canada tested his limits.
Calling the trip “a bit of a test,” the 85-year-old pope said he had not thought of resigning, but “the door is open” to doing so, according to KDFW.
“It’s not strange. It’s not a catastrophe. You can change the pope,” he said aboard his plane while sitting in a wheelchair to speak to the media.
“Today, too, in this place, I want to tell you how very sorry I am and to ask for forgiveness for the evil perpetrated by not a few Catholics,” he said, adding, “How evil it is to break the bonds uniting parents and children.”
On his return, the pope said he had come to realize his limits.
“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, KDFW reported.
The pope used a variety of aids including a wheelchair, walker and cane during the trip. Francis strained ligaments in his right knee earlier this year, and treatment for that forced him to cancel a planned trip to Africa last month.
Will it hurt the Catholic Church if the pope retires?
The pope has ruled out surgery on his knee, citing the lingering effects of intestinal surgery last year.
“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.
The pope spoke about the forced efforts to eliminate the culture of Indigenous People in Canada when asked about the use of the term genocide.
“It’s true I didn’t use the word because it didn’t come to mind, but I described genocide, no?” Francis said. “I apologized, I asked forgiveness for this work, which was genocide.”
Francis said he plans to travel to Kazakhstan in September for an interfaith conference at which he might meet with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, who supports the war in Ukraine. Francis has deplored it.
The pope has two major events coming up this month. In June, he announced a consistory to create new cardinals and a visit to the city of L’Aquila, according to the Associated Press. The report noted that it was not the actions themselves, but what could be read into them, that set tongues wagging.
The significance of the visit to L’Aquila, located in central Italy, is that the feast he will celebrate there was initiated by Pope Celestine V. Celestine is among the few popes to ever resign. Pope Benedict XVI stepped aside in 2013, prompting the selection of Francis.
The significance of the consistory Francis called for Aug. 27 is that 21 new cardinals will be named, including 16 who are under 80 and can participate in the voting for the next pope.
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