The AP Interview: Pope on health, critics and future papacy read full article at


VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis says he hasn’t even thought of issuing norms to manage future papal resignations and plans to proceed for so long as he can as bishop of Rome, regardless of a wave of assaults by some top-ranked cardinals and bishops.

In his first interview for the reason that Dec. 31 death of retired Pope Benedict XVI, Francis addressed his well being, his critics and the subsequent section of his preach, which marks its tenth anniversary in March with out Benedict’s shadow within the background.

“I’m in good health. For my age, I’m normal,” the 86-year-old pontiff stated Tuesday, although he revealed that diverticulosis, or bulges in his intestinal wall, had “returned.” Francis had 33 centimeters (13 inches) of his giant gut eliminated in 2021 due to what the Vatican stated was irritation that induced a narrowing of his colon.

He added {that a} slight bone fracture in his knee from a fall had healed with out surgical procedure after laser and magnet remedy.

“I might die tomorrow, but it’s under control. I’m in good health,” he informed The Related Press together with his typical wry humorousness.

Hypothesis about Francis’ well being and the way forward for his preach has solely risen following the demise of Benedict, whose 2013 resignation marked a turning level for the Catholic Church as the primary pontiff in six centuries to retire.

Some commentators consider Francis may be freer to maneuver now that Benedict, who lived out his 10-year retirement within the Vatican, is gone. Others counsel that any type of ecclesial peace that had reigned was over and that Francis is now extra uncovered to critics, disadvantaged of the moderating affect Benedict performed in conserving the conservative Catholic fringe at bay.

Francis acknowledged the knives have been out, however appeared virtually sanguine about it.

“I wouldn’t relate it to Benedict, but because of the wear-and-tear of a government of 10 years,” Francis stated of his papacy. At first, his election was greeted with a way of “surprise” a couple of South American pope, then got here discomfort “when they started to see my flaws and didn’t like them,” he stated.

“The only thing I ask is that they do it to my face, because that’s how we all grow, right?” he added.

Francis praised Benedict as a “gentleman,” and stated of his demise: “I lost a dad.”

“For me, he was a security. In the face of a doubt, I would ask for the car and go to the monastery and ask,” he stated of his visits to Benedict’s retirement dwelling for counsel. “I lost a good companion.”

Some cardinals and canon legal professionals have stated the Vatican should difficulty norms to manage future papal retirements to forestall the few hiccups that occurred throughout Benedict’s unexpectedly lengthy retirement, throughout which he remained some extent of reference for some conservatives and traditionalists who refused to acknowledge Francis’ legitimacy.

From the title Benedict selected (emeritus pope) to the (white) cassock he wore to his occasional public remarks (on priestly celibacy and intercourse abuse), these commentators stated norms must make clear there is only one reigning pope for the sake of the unity of the church.

Francis stated issuing such norms hadn’t even occurred to him.

“I’m telling you the truth,” he stated, including that the Vatican wanted extra expertise with papal retirements earlier than getting down to “regularize or regulate” them.

Francis has stated Benedict “opened the door” to future resignations, and that he too would think about stepping down. He repeated Tuesday that if he have been to resign he’d be known as the emeritus bishop of Rome and would reside within the residence for retired clergymen within the diocese of Rome.

Francis stated Benedict’s determination to reside in a transformed monastery within the Vatican Gardens was a “good intermediate solution,” however that future retired popes would possibly wish to do issues in another way.

“He was still ‘enslaved’ as a pope, no?” Francis stated. “Of the vision of a pope, of a system. ‘Slave’ in the good sense of the word: In that he wasn’t completely free, as he would have liked to have returned to his Germany and continued studying theology.”

By one calculation, Benedict’s demise removes the principle impediment to Francis resigning, for the reason that prospect of two pensioner popes was by no means an possibility. However Francis stated Benedict’s demise hadn’t altered his calculations. “It didn’t even occur to me to write a will,” he stated.

As for his personal near-term future, Francis emphasised his function as “bishop of Rome” versus pontiff and stated of his plans: “Continue being bishop, bishop of Rome in communion with all the bishops of the world.” He stated he wished to place to relaxation the idea of the papacy as an influence participant or papal “court.”

Francis additionally addressed the criticism from cardinals and bishops that burst into public within the weeks since Benedict’s demise, saying it’s disagreeable — “like a rash that bothers you a bit” — however that’s higher than conserving it beneath wraps.

“You prefer that they don’t criticize, for the sake of tranquility,” Francis stated. “But I prefer that they do it because that means there’s freedom to speak.”

“If it’s not like this, there would be a dictatorship of distance, as I call it, where the emperor is there and no one can tell him anything. No, let them speak because … criticism helps you to grow and improve things.”

The first salvo in the wave of attacks got here from Benedict’s longtime secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, who revealed the unhealthy blood that amassed during the last 10 years in a tell-all memoir printed within the days after Benedict’s funeral.

In one of the crucial explosive sections, Gaenswein revealed that Benedict realized by studying the Vatican every day newspaper L’Osservatore Romano that Francis had reversed one of many former pope’s most vital liturgical selections and re-imposed restrictions on celebrating the Outdated Latin Mass.

A number of days later, the Vatican was rattled anew by the demise of one other conservative stalwart, Cardinal George Pell, and revelations that Pell was the creator of a devastating memorandum that circulated final yr that known as the Francis preach a “disaster” and a “catastrophe.”

The memo, which was initially printed beneath the pseudonym “Demos,” listed all the issues within the Vatican beneath Francis, from its precarious funds to the pontiff’s preaching type, and issued bullet factors for what a future pope ought to do to repair them.

Francis acknowledged Pell’s criticism however nonetheless sang his praises for having been his “right-hand man” on reforming the Vatican’s funds as his first economic system minister.

“Even though they say he criticized me, fine, he has the right. Criticism is a human right,” Francis stated. However he added: “He was a great guy. Great.”


About Nicole Winfield | AP

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