The Bishop of Rome and the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Jesuit Jorge Mario Bergoglio popularly called Pope Francis has revealed for the first time that he had signed his resignation letter nearly a decade ago should poor health prevent him from carrying out his duties.
Pope Francis, turned 86 on December 17. He also celebrated 53 years as a priest on December 13.
In an interview with Spanish newspaper ABC, the pontiff said he signed his resignation letter and handed it over to the Vatican’s secretary of state, Tarcisio Bertone, before that cardinal’s retirement in 2013.
Pope Francis had said in the past that he would step down from the papacy should health problems keep him from his duties.
Recall that Pope Francis’s predecessor, Benedict XVI, also quit over failing health in 2013.
“I have already signed my renunciation,” Pope Francis revealed, noting that he did so early in the papacy.
“I signed it and said: ‘If I should become impaired for medical reasons or whatever, here is my resignation. Here you have it,‘” he said, referring to Cardinal Bertone, who stepped down as secretary of state in October 2013, in the first months of Francis’ papacy.
Asked by the interviewer whether he wanted that fact to be known, Francis replied: “That’s why I’m telling you.”
“I think that at my age and with this limitation, I have to save myself a little bit to be able to serve the Church. Or, alternatively, to think about the possibility of stepping aside,” he said.
Checks by The Nation show Pope Francis had surgery on his colon in 2021. Earlier this year, he also shared that he was also having problems with his knee.
During the months that followed, Pope Francis had to cancel some public events and a papal trip to Africa due to ligament pain in his right knee.
He also stopped taking the stairs and in May, after receiving medical treatment, he started using a wheelchair or walking short distances with a cane.