Is Pope Francis Planning To Resign?
Exactly on this day, six years ago, former pope Benedict XVI resigned. Benedict, who had been elected in 2005, later explained that he was stepping down due to old age and the inability to meet the physical demands of his global office.
He was 85 years old at the time, the fourth-oldest pope in history. He was also the first Bishop of Rome in 600 years not to die in office and the first since 1294 to resign freely without being forced by external pressure, according to a daily French general interest Roman Catholic newspaper, La Croix.
The anniversary of Benedict's resignation announcement, and speculation over whether Pope Francis intends to be the second consecutive Roman Pontiff to retire, came to mind this past week when the current pope held a press conference on his flight home from a visit to the United Arab Emirates.
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While responding to one reporter's question, Francis said he had received invitations to visit other Arab countries.
"But there's no time this year," he said. "Let's see if next year I or another Peter [i.e., pope] will go!" he said.
According to La Croix, it is not if, but when the popular and progressive pontiff would retire.
And the reason, according to the publication, is that Pope Francis does not want resignation from the papacy to be an exception. He wants it to be normal.
"I keep coming back to this idea which may not please some theologians (and I am no theologian)... I think that a pope-emeritus should not be an exception," Pope Francis said in August 2014 while speaking to journalists on a return flight from South Korea.
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