Roman Catholic church leader, Pope Francis has dismissed reports that he plans to resign in the near future, saying he is on track to visit Canada this month 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, on Sunday July 3, Francis also denied rumours 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 carrying out some duties.
In the 90-minute conversation conducted in Italian, with no aides present, the 85-year-old pontiff also repeated his condemnation of abortion following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last month.
Rumours came out last month saying the pope was considering retiring and had cancer after he had meetings with the world’s cardinals to discuss a new Vatican constitution, held a ceremony to induct new cardinals, and has a visit to the Italian city of L’Aquila.
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 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.
Asked when he thought that might be, he said: “We don’t know. God will say.”
The interview took place on the day he was to have left for Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, a trip he had to cancel because doctors said he might also have to miss a trip to Canada from July 24-30 unless he agreed to have 20 more days of therapy and rest for his right knee.
Francis said the decision to cancel the Africa trip had caused him “much suffering”, particularly because he wanted to promote peace in both countries. read more
Francis used a cane as he walked into a reception room on the ground floor of the Santa Marta guest house where he has lived since his election in 2013,
Asked how he was, the pope answered: “I’m still alive!”
He said he had suffered “a small fracture” in the knee when he took a misstep while a ligament was inflamed.
“I am well, I am slowly getting better,” he said, adding that the fracture was knitting, helped by laser and magnet therapy.
Francis also dismissed rumours that a cancer had been found a year ago when he underwent a six-hour operation to remove part of his colon because of diverticulitis, a condition common in the elderly.
“It (the operation) was a great success,” he said, adding with a laugh that “they didn’t tell me anything” about the supposed cancer, which he dismissed as “court gossip”.
Asked about the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling establishing a woman’s right to have an abortion, Francis strongly condemned abortion, comparing it to “hiring a hit man”. The Catholic Church teaches that life begins at the moment of conception.
“I ask: Is it legitimate, is it right, to eliminate a human life to resolve a problem?”