Pope Francis denies he is planning to resign in near future
Published: Jul 05, 2022 05:09 PM
Pope Francis arrives to hold an audience on March 16, 2022 for the 50th anniversary of Milan's school

Pope Francis arrives to hold an audience on March 16, 2022 for the 50th anniversary of Milan's school "La Zolla," at St. Peter's Basilica in The Vatican. The Vatican has announced that Pope Francis will consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25. It will take place during the Celebration of Penance in St. Peter's Basilica. Photo: AFP

Pope Francis has dismissed reports that he plans to resign in the near future, saying he is on track to visit Canada in July and hopes to be able to go to Moscow and Kyiv as soon as possible after that.

In an exclusive interview in his Vatican residence, Francis also denied rumors that he had cancer, joking that his doctors "didn't tell me anything about it," and for the first time gave details of the knee condition that has prevented him from carrying out some duties.

In a 90-minute conversation on Saturday afternoon, conducted in Italian, with no aides present, the 85-year-old pontiff also repeated his condemnation of abortion following the US Supreme Court ruling in June.

Rumors have swirled in the media that a conjunction of events in late August, including meetings with the world's cardinals to discuss a new Vatican constitution, a ceremony to induct new cardinals, and a visit to the Italian city of L'Aquila, could foreshadow a resignation announcement.

L'Aquila is associated with Pope Celestine V, who resigned the papacy in 1294. 

Pope Benedict XVI visited the city four years before he resigned in 2013, the first pope to do so in about 600 years.

But Francis, alert and at ease throughout the interview as he discussed a wide range of international and Church issues, laughed the idea off.

"All of these coincidences made some think that the same 'liturgy' would happen," he said. "But it never entered my mind. For the moment no, for the moment, no. Really!"

Francis did, however, repeat his often stated position that he might resign someday if failing health made it impossible for him to run the Church - something that had been almost unthinkable before Benedict XVI.

Asked when he thought that might be, he said: "We don't know. God will say."