July 23, 2024

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The Pope’s health: I could step down – but not yet, says pontiff

Pope Francis has stated that he may need to think about stepping down at some point in the near future and that he would do so if his health prevented him from doing his duties as effectively as he should.

He made the remarks at the conclusion of a tour that required significant travel and long days and during which he apologised to indigenous people in Canada.

The 85-year-old pontiff emphasised that, for the time being, he intends to continue in his responsibilities and that he will be led by God as to when, if at all, he will stand down.

On the flight from Canada’s Arctic territory to Rome, he told the media in a wheelchair, “It is not a calamity to change the Pope, it is not a taboo.”

Pope Francis has experienced ongoing knee pain in recent months, which has limited his mobility. He used a wheelchair for the majority of his time in Canada.

However, he has in the past denied rumours of more severe, fatal ailments.

The Pope, whose predecessor Benedict XVI retired in 2013 due to illness, did express a desire to travel to Ukraine soon, but he would need to consult with his physicians beforehand.

His solemn mission during his tour to Canada had been to apologise to the local indigenous people for the wrongs done to them by members of the Catholic Church.

The contacts the Pope had with locals, notably those who had experienced abuse in Catholic schools, seemed to hold his interest the most.

However, there were moments when his fatigue on a busy trip became clear during some of the official formalities with legislators.

On the way home, he spoke with journalists on a variety of subjects and became animated when criticising so-called “traditionalists” in the Church, who are, ironically enough, the ones most likely to support a change in pontiff.