The pope has said it will be “not a disaster” if he retires as head of the Catholic Church due to health problems that have affected his mobility.
Pope Francis, 85, admitted on Saturday that he can no longer travel as he used to because of his strained knee ligaments.
He spoke after a week-long pilgrimage to Canada in which he apologized to Indigenous peoples for the injustices they have suffered in Church-run residential schools in Canada.
The pope described the trip as “a bit of a test” that showed him to slow down and possibly retire one day.
‘It is not strange. It’s not a disaster. You can change the Pope,” he said as he sat in an airplane wheelchair during a 45-minute press conference.
Francis, 85, insisted that he hadn’t thought of stepping down yet, realizing that he should at least slow down.
But he added that “the door is open” and that there was nothing wrong with a pope’s resignation.
Pope Francis, 85, spoke to reporters during his plane trip to the Vatican from Canada, where he admitted he might be retiring
He spoke after a week-long pilgrimage to Canada in which he spoke to indigenous peoples about the injustice they suffered in Canada’s church-run residential schools.
85-year-old Francis stressed that he had not thought of stepping down, he realizes that he must at least slow down
Francis said earlier in the month that the retirement of his predecessor – Pope emeritus Benedict – had gone “pretty well” and that he could also retire “when the time is right” and “if I survive.”
“I think at my age and with these limitations I have to save (my energy) 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 after the maiden voyage in which he used a wheelchair, walker and cane to get around, severely limiting his program and ability to mingle with the crowd.
Earlier this year, he strained his right knee ligaments and continued laser and magnetic therapy forced him to cancel a trip to Africa scheduled for the first week of July.
The journey to Canada was difficult and there were several times when Francis was clearly in pain as he maneuvered going up and down seats.
At the end of his six-day tour, he appeared in good spirits and energized, despite a long day of traveling to the fringes of the Arctic on Friday to once again apologize to the indigenous peoples for the injustice they suffered at the hands of churches. run residential schools in Canada.
Francis ruled out surgery on his knee, saying it wouldn’t necessarily help, noting that “there are still traces” of the effects of undergoing more than six hours of anesthesia in July 2021 at 33 cm (13 inches) from his colon.
“I will try to keep doing the trips and being close to the people because I think it’s a way of serving, being close. But I can’t say more than this,” he said on Saturday.
Much of Canada’s pilgrimage has been dominated by Pope Francis’ efforts to apologize to Canada’s indigenous communities. Pictured: Francis during a meeting with indigenous peoples in the primary school square of Iqaluit, the capital of the Canadian territory of Nunavut yesterday
Francis, left, wears a traditional headdress he was given after apologizing to indigenous people at a ceremony in Maskwacis, Alberta, on July 25
Indigenous women wearing “Every Child Matters” on their clothes await Pope Francis’ arrival at Nakasuk School in Iqaluit, Nunavut, yesterday. The Pope agreed that the attempt to eradicate indigenous culture in Canada through a church-run boarding school system amounted to a cultural “genocide.”
Much of Canada’s pilgrimage has been dominated by Pope Francis’ efforts to apologize to Canada’s indigenous communities.
He agreed that the attempt to eradicate indigenous culture in Canada through a church-run school system amounted to a cultural “genocide.”
Francis said he didn’t use the term on his trip to Canada because it didn’t cross my mind.
The Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission determined in 2015 that the forcible removal of Indigenous children from their homes and placement in Church-run residential schools for inclusion in Christian, Canadian, constituted a “cultural genocide.”
“It’s true I didn’t use the word because it didn’t occur to me, but I was describing genocide, wasn’t I?” said Francis. “I apologized, I asked forgiveness for this work, which was genocide.”
Francis noted that the Church’s teaching on nuclear weapons was changed during his pontificate to consider not only the use but also the mere possession of nuclear weapons immoral and to consider the death penalty immoral in all cases.
Meanwhile, Francis confirmed that he hoped to travel to Kazakhstan in mid-September for an interfaith conference where he could meet Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, who has justified the war in Ukraine.
Francis also said he wants to go to Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, although no trip has been confirmed yet.
He said he hoped to reschedule the trip to South Sudan, which he canceled due to knee problems. He said the Congo portion of that trip will likely have to be postponed until next year due to the rainy season.