“I don’t think I can continue to travel as much as before,” said the 85-year-old pope as he was on his way home to the Vatican on Saturday after completing a six-day visit to Canada.
There he had to resort to a wheelchair several times due to knee problems.
– I think that at my age and with such constraint, I should step back a little to be able to serve the Church. Instead, I am considering the possibility of stepping down, the Pope continued.
Benedict went ahead
This is not the first time the Pope has mentioned that he is likely to step down and follow the example of his predecessor, Benedict XVI.
He resigned in 2013 due to his deteriorating health and now lives a quiet life in the Vatican. It was the first time the Pope had resigned since the Middle Ages, and the decision shocked the Catholic Church.
Already the following year, in 2014, Pope Francis said that if he had health problems, he would consider stepping down. And in May this year, according to Italian media, he was said to have joked that he would rather retire than have surgery on his knee. It is said that the statement came in a closed meeting with the bishops.
On Saturday, he described his possible departure as a “normal option”.
– But so far I haven’t knocked on that door. But that doesn’t mean I won’t start thinking about it the day after tomorrow, does it? But at the moment I’m not thinking about it, he said.
He described the trip to Canada as a kind of test and admitted that it was too demanding for a man in his condition and that it was time to change his approach.
During his visit to Canada, the Pope asked for a pardon for the injustice committed by Catholic schools against the country’s indigenous population in connection with the forcible transfer of thousands of children to boarding schools.
On the trip home, he described the treatment of the indigenous population as genocide.
– I didn’t say the word in Canada because I couldn’t think of it, but I did describe it as genocide. She asked for pardon for this act of genocide, the Pope told reporters accompanying him on the trip.
The Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission decided in 2015 that the forcible placement of Aboriginal children in boarding schools was a “cultural genocide”.
From the end of the 19th century to the 1970s, 150,000 children were subjected to the country’s policy of assimilation, in which the goal was to deprive children of their original culture, language and identity. Thousands died while staying in schools, and in recent years, a number of unmarked graves linked to the now closed schools have been found.
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