Pope Francis has fueled the rumor mill with a postponed Africa visit and the anxious timing of an upcoming meeting of cardinals. Speculation was renewed by the announcement in late August about his proposed visit to L’Aquila in central Italy – similar to other popes who have retired.
Speculation began in early May when the 85-year-old appeared in public for the first time using a wheelchair due to pain in his knee.
The 85-year-old canceled her proposed trip to Africa in July due to forced wheelchair access.
“At the request of his doctors, and in order not to jeopardize the results of his ongoing therapy for his knee, the Holy Father is forced, with regret, to postpone his apostolic visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. South Sudan, planned from 2 to 7 July, is to be determined later,” Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See Press Office, said in a recent statement.
Speculation gained momentum after Pope Benedict made the unusual decision on 27 August to host a concourse to create new cardinals, some of whom would be eligible to elect the pontiff’s successor.
“It’s so strange to have a concourse in August, there’s no reason he needs to call it three months in advance and then go to L’Aquila in the middle of it,” said Robert Mickens, Rome-based editor of the English-language edition of the crossA Catholic daily newspaper, was quoted as saying Guardian,
Most recently, in May, Pope Francis mocked his knee during a closed-door meeting with bishops: “Instead of operating, I will resign.”
In July, he is expected to travel to Canada and that schedule remains unchanged for now. According to the Vatican, he continues to receive injections into his knee and physical therapy.
In July 2021, Pope underwent intestinal surgery, which kept him in the hospital for 10 days.
What is the protocol when the Pope resigns?
If this happens, the cardinals will gather to name a successor. The College of Cardinals, which elects the next pope, is made up of the most senior officials of the Catholic Church.
Who was the last pope to resign?
Pope Francis’ predecessor Benedict XVI resigned in February 2013 over health concerns. He was the first pontiff to resign in nearly 600 years.
However, Vatican watchers say resignations are unlikely. Italian Vatican expert Marco Politi said rumors within the Roman Curia – the Catholic Church’s powerful governing body – are nothing new, and are often fueled by those who are interested.
“These rumors have been encouraged by opponents of the Pope who are only eager to let Francis go,” he told AFP.