Pope Francis ruled out the possibility of staying in the Vatican or returning to Argentina in the event of an eventual resignation from the papacy.
In an interview with Univisión and Televisa broadcast July 12, Pope Francis said he would “surely not” stay in the Vatican if one day he resigned. He wouldn’t return to Argentina either, he added, because “I am the Bishop of Rome.” He said he would be “the Bishop Emeritus of Rome.”
Asked if he would reside at Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran, the Holy Father said “that could be,” since he would like to retire “to hear confessions at a church.”
However, he said that “for the moment” he hasn’t considered resigning from the papacy.
The pope said he took the rumors about his possible resignation “quite well,” especially the theories that have surfaced about it in recent weeks.
He noted there were journalists who speculated about his upcoming trip to L’Aquila, Italy, where the tomb of St. Celestine V is located. Celestine V in 1294 became the first pope in the history of the Church to resign from the papacy. Pope Benedict XVI visited the tomb and left his pallium there in 2009, four years before his resignation.
Pope Francis said it was interesting to see how some put the events together as if they were “meta-messages,” including his calling a consistory in August, “where not even the dog is on the street in Rome,” because of summer vacations.
The analysis over his possible resignation made sense, he said, but was “pure coincidence.”
“I really don’t feel like the Lord is asking me that right now. When I feel that the Lord is asking me, yes,” he said, regarding an eventual resignation from the papacy.
Pope Francis said the knee pain he has been experiencing for several months “scared me, in the sense of ‘think a little about what your future is going to be like now.’”
“Thank God it’s getting better; now I can walk, but I certainly couldn’t make the trip to the Congo, because (my knee) wasn’t working,” he continued.
“Now, 20 days later, I’ve made this progress,” he added.
However, he continued, “it never occurred to me to resign until recently, and the example that Pope Benedict gave us is so great, that if I see that I can’t (go on) or that I’m doing harm or am a hindrance, I hope that the strength of that example would help me make the decision.”
When asked about whether use of the title “pope emeritus” would become the norm in the Catholic Church, the Holy Father said that “history itself will force (the Church) to regularize it.”
Referring to Benedict XVI, Pope Francis said that “the first experience went quite well because he is a holy and discreet man, and he knew how to do it well. But for the future, it’s appropriate to explain things better.”
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.