Rome speculates about Pope’s resignation due to health

Vatican

Will the Pope retire? There is speculation in Rome about his resignation due to Francis’ health

Having three popes would be a very good thing: soon there will be rules for the retirement of leaders of the Catholic Church.

Recovered after hospital stay: Pope Francis.

Vatican Newsletter / EPA

“A new secret meeting is in the air: Pope Francis is ready to resign due to his illness,” Italian newspaper Libero wrote earlier this week. Since then, there have been reports in Rome of a possible imminent resignation by Francis. The background to the speculation is Pope’s inflammatory bowel disease, which made the surgical removal of part of his colon necessary on July 4.

The Pope’s stay at the Gemelli clinic in Rome lasted longer than planned – ten days instead of the seven days initially planned. In the reports, the pope’s age has been repeatedly emphasized: on December 17, Francis will turn 85 years old. His predecessor, Benedict XVI, was the same age. He resigned in February 2013.

Francis fine and “töggelet”

The Vatican has yet to confirm or deny the reports, as is usual in such cases. The speculations are not very convincing: Pope Francis recovered well from the operation, after a week ago the audience laughed and played a football match with a young man.

The next papal trip to Budapest and Slovakia has been confirmed, according to the program. Ultimately, in reports of the Pope’s supposed imminent resignation, desire was the father of the idea: Libero and the other newspapers I have written about are right-wing and conservative ones, in which Francis was too left-wing, too green and too little doctrinal in matters of sexual morality. You’ve been shooting the Argentine Pope for a long time.

Luis Padilla Morales, director of the news portal related to the Vatican “Il Sismografo”, rules out the Pope’s resignation: “This is not currently discussed within the Vatican, and I think that Francis himself never seriously considered this possibility,” the Vatican specialist.

But the question of how the Catholic Church will deal with the resignations of the Pope in the future certainly arises: “It is therefore very likely that Pope Francis will introduce a new law in the form of an apostolic constitution in the next few weeks, in which this situation is regulated”, confirms Padilla Morales. After the resignation of Benedict XVI. Francis had to “improvise” in this regard.

A long-awaited decision

It would be a sort of “retirement regulation” for the Popes already in arrears – regardless of whether Francis himself was toying with a resignation or not. Because the position of the pope who resigns is still unclear today.

Benedict XVI since his resignation on February 28, 2013, has held the title “Pope Emeritus” (“Pope Emeritus”), lives in a Vatican monastery and still wears the white robe of the head of the church. He also kept his papal name. The portal “kathisch.de” wrote: “In the past, this has repeatedly led to debates about the status of Benedict and gave rise to speculation about the existence of Popes.” The danger of “anti-pope” or schism (the splitting of the Church) was also sometimes raised.

Three popes would be a good thing too much

Therefore it is necessary to clarify the roles. A solution is basically obvious. Indeed, Benedict XVI. Bishop Emeritus”, the former president of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller, explained years ago. After all, the Pope is also the Bishop of Rome at the same time.

Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, former president of the Pontifical Commission for Historical Studies, stressed the need to avoid any impression of a “two-headed papal office”. Brandmüller’s suggestion: The resigning person should use his family name again, and his clothes and accommodations should be regulated.

In any case, one thing is certain: at least in public perception, the Catholic Church has had two Popes since 2013: current President Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict. If at some point Francis came to the conclusion, like Benedict, that he could no longer deal with the demands of the papal office for health reasons and thus resign, then there would be three Popes without a new regulation. And that would definitely be too much of a good thing.

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