Pope Francis has dismissed rumors that he plans to step down in the near future, saying he is on his way to visit Canada this month and hopes to be able to go to Moscow and Kiev as soon as possible afterwards.
In an exclusive interview at his Vatican residence, Francis also denied rumors that he had cancer, joking that his doctors “didn’t tell me anything about it”, and for the first time gave details about the knee condition that prevented him from performing some tests. duties.
In a 90-minute conversation last Saturday afternoon, conducted in Italian, without aides present, the 85-year-old pontiff also repeated his condemnation of abortion after the US Supreme Court ruling last month.
Rumors surfaced in the media that a conjunction of events in late August, including meetings with world cardinals to discuss a new Vatican constitution, a ceremony to swear in new cardinals and a visit to the Italian city of L’Aquila, could foreshadow an announcement. of dismissal.
L’Aquila is associated with Pope Celestine V, who resigned from the papacy in 1294. Pope Benedict XVI visited the city four years before resigning in 2013, the first pope to do so in some 600 years.
But Francis, alert and at ease throughout the interview as he discussed a wide range of international and church issues, chuckled at the idea.
“All these coincidences made some think that the same ‘liturgy’ would take place,” he said. “But it never crossed my mind. Not yet, not yet. Really!”
Francis, however, repeated his oft-stated position that he might one day resign if failing health made it impossible for him to run the Church — something that was almost unthinkable before Benedict.
Asked when he thought that might happen, he said: “We don’t know. God will say.”
The interview took place on the day he was due to leave for the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, a trip he had to cancel because doctors said he could also miss a trip to Canada from July 24-30 unless agreed to have another 20 days of therapy and rest for the right knee.
He said the decision to cancel the trip to Africa caused him “a lot of suffering”, mainly because he wanted to promote peace in both countries.
Francis used a cane as he entered a reception room on the ground floor of the Santa Marta guest house, where he has lived since his election in 2013, avoiding the papal apartment in the Apostolic Palace used by his predecessors.
The room has a copy of one of Francisco’s favorite paintings: “Mary, Untie the Knots”, created around 1700 by the German Joachim Schmidtner.
Asked how he was doing, the pope joked: “I’m still alive!”
He has given details of his illness for the first time in public, saying he suffered “a minor fracture” in his knee when he took a misstep while a ligament was inflamed.
“I’m fine, I’m slowly improving,” he said, adding that the fracture was treated with laser and magnetic therapy.
Francis also dismissed rumors that cancer was found a year ago when he underwent a six-hour operation to remove part of his colon for diverticulitis, a common condition in the elderly.
“It (the operation) was a great success,” he said, adding with a laugh that “they didn’t tell me anything” about the alleged cancer, which he dismissed as “court gossip.”
But he said he didn’t want a knee operation because the general anesthesia in last year’s surgery had negative side effects.
trip to moscow
Speaking of the situation in Ukraine, Francis noted that there had been contacts between Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about a possible trip to Moscow.
The initial signs were not good. No pope has ever visited Moscow, and Francis has repeatedly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; last Thursday, he implicitly accused him of waging a “cruel and senseless war of aggression”.
When the Vatican first asked about a trip several months ago, Francis said Moscow responded that the time was not right.
But he hinted that something might have changed now.
“I would like to go (to Ukraine), and I wanted to go to Moscow first. We exchanged messages about this because I thought if the Russian president would give me a little window to serve the cause of peace. […] And now it’s possible, after I get back from Canada, it’s possible that I can go to Ukraine,” he said.
“The first thing is to go to Russia to try to help in some way, but I would like to go to both capitals,” he added.
decision on abortion
Asked about the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning the historic Roe v. Wade, which establishes a woman’s right to abortion, Francis said he respects the decision but doesn’t have enough information to speak about it from a legal point of view.
But he vehemently condemned abortion, comparing it to “hiring a hired assassin”. The Catholic Church teaches that life begins at conception.
“I ask: is it legitimate, is it right, to take a human life to solve a problem?”
Francis was asked about a debate in the United States over whether a Catholic politician who personally opposes abortion but supports others’ right to choose should receive the sacrament of communion.
Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, for example, was barred from receiving, but regularly receives, communion at a parish in Washington, D.C. by the conservative archbishop of her diocese of San Francisco.
Last week, she received the sacrament at a papal mass at the Vatican.
“When the Church loses its pastoral nature, when a bishop loses its pastoral nature, it causes a political problem,” the pope said. “That’s all I can say.”
Source: CNN Brasil