The upcoming series of plans by Pope Francis, 85, has sparked speculation he is preparing to step down, amid health concerns.
Pope Francis plans to visit the city of L’Aquila, central Italy, on August 28 to visit the mausoleum of the late Pope Celestine V, who in 1294 issued a decree allowing popes to resign. Pope Celestine V applied this rule to resign the next day.
The decree of the late Pope Celestine V is said to be the legal basis for former Pope Benedict XVI, the predecessor of Pope Francis, to resign in 2013 due to health reasons. Benedict XVI is the first pope to resign in six centuries.
Pope Francis will also hold a meeting on August 27 to appoint new cardinals. Some of these will be eligible for the conclave of cardinals, the event held to elect a new pope.
The agenda of Pope Francis, 85, has sparked speculation that he may follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, in his resignation. Rumors began circulating in early May, when Pope Francis appeared in public for the first time in a wheelchair.
Pope Francis in July 2021 was hospitalized to undergo colon surgery. He also suffers from sciatica, which causes pain in his legs when he moves.
The Vatican has not commented on the reports.
Since taking office in 2013, Pope Francis has said he wants to see it as normal for a pope to resign. In 2015, Pope Francis said he felt his time in power would be short and described his predecessor Benedict XVI’s decision to step down as “courageous”.
Ngoc Anh (Theo Guardian/Times)