Pope Francis puts rumors of retirement to rest in new memoir

Pope Francis puts rumors of retirement to rest in new memoir
Pope Francis puts rumors of retirement to rest in new memoir

We show you our most important and recent visitors news details Pope Francis puts rumors of retirement to rest in new memoir in the following article

Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has no intention of retiring and plans to remain in post for life, according to his new autobiography.

In "Life: My Story Through History", Pope Francis, who is 87, says there is "no risk" of him resigning despite speculation he might step down following a spate of health issues.

"I believe the pope's ministry is ad vitam, for life," Francis says.

"I therefore see no justification for giving it up."

Earlier this year, Francis canceled meetings and audiences due to ill health. He has suffered from frequent bouts of influenza, has difficult walking and is increasingly seen using a wheelchair.

These issues, as well as the Pope's age, have prompted questions about the future of the Catholic Church.

Despite denying he is considering retirement, in his memoir Francis says that if he was forced to step down due to "serious physical impediment" he would "move to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore to serve as confessor and give Communion to the sick".

However, according to sources familiar with Francis' thinking, the pontiff is determined to avoid a scenario in which two popes are alive simultaneously — something which occurred when his predecessor Benedict XVI took the highly unusual decision of stepping down in 2013.

Having Francis as pope while Benedict XVI was still alive led to considerable friction within the Church, particularly between conservatives and more liberal-minded members of the clergy.

The memoir will be seen by some as an attempt by Francis to regain momentum following the prolonged period of health issues.

In the book, the Pope actively discusses major international political issues such as the migration crisis, global conflicts, and the European Union.

Francis also dwells on more personal matters. In one section, he talks about a "very sweet" girlfriend from his youth, and about a "small crush" he had when he was already studying to become a priest. "She was on my mind for a week and praying was hard," Francis writes. "Then luckily it passed, and I gave body and soul to my vocation."

In another chapter, Francis — a lifelong football fan — discusses meeting Argentina football player Diego Maradona and talking about his infamous handball, dubbed the Hand of God.

"The Vatican has always been a source of palace intrigue both for Catholics and non-Catholics alike, so anytime the curtain is pulled it draws attention," Christopher White, a Vatican observer who writes for the US-based publication National Catholic Reporter, told the BBC.

White said that although Francis speaks about the world and the Church often, "very rarely do we hear him speak so much about who he is."

"Francis is used to having all sorts of people try to interpret him or to speak on his behalf or to say who he is and who he isn't — so this is a chance to write his own legacy."

In his 11 years as pontiff, Pope Francis has espoused some liberal ideals which have put him at odds with the more conservative currents within the Church.

Last year, he allowed priests to bless same-sex couples, a significant advance for LGBT people in the Roman Catholic Church, and said transgender people can be baptized as long as doing so does not cause scandal or "confusion".

In November, Pope Francis also evicted conservative US Cardinal Raymond Burke, an outspoken critic, from his Vatican apartment and revoked his salary.

Iacopo Scaramuzzi, the Vatican correspondent for Italian daily La Repubblica, said the memoir is a chance for the Pope to "reflects on his entire life, during what appears to be the final phase of his pontificate".

Pope Francis was elected as the 266th pope in March 2013. His memoir was published on the 11th anniversary of his papal inauguration. — BBC

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