Home World The future of the pope generates concern and speculation

The future of the pope generates concern and speculation

The future of the pope generates concern and speculation

The fragile state of health of Pope Francis, who postponed his trip to Africa, fuels rumors of a possible resignation, but experts warn that it should not be taken for granted.

His visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan, scheduled for the beginning of July, was postponed indefinitely, and many wonder if he will be able to make it to Canada at the end of that month, after being seen wincing during some appearances. public.

Vatican says trip to Canada will stay "until new notice".

Since the beginning of May, the 85-year-old pope has used a wheelchair or a cane, weakened by severe pain in his right knee.

To alleviate it, Francis regularly receives injections and physiotherapy sessions, according to the Vatican, which is keeping a low profile about his health.

The treatment "runs its course and is bearing fruit", assures a Vatican source. However, these rare last-minute changes to the Holy See’s agenda have reignited concerns about Jorge Bergoglio’s ability to govern and sparked rumors of a possible resignation.

this theory "returns cyclically"analyzes the Italian Vaticanist Marco Politi, author of the book "Francis, the plague and the Renaissance".

"These rumors are fueled by the pope’s opponents who only want to see Francis leave"he points out.

In 2014, the pontiff himself contributed to feeding the hypothesis, considering that Benedict XVI had "opened a door" by resigning from his post.

"media frenzy"

Some experts nuance the possibility of a next exit. "In the pope’s environment, the majority does not believe much in the possibility of a resignation"a Vatican source told AFP.

"From the moment it begins to be said that the pope is very ill, many years can pass: John Paul II’s illness began in 1993 and ended in 2005"remembers Alberto Melloni, historian of Christianity and secretary of the Religious Sciences Foundation.

"They are things in which there is a desire to understand, to speculate, but there is little to say"he added, lamenting a "excessive media frenzy around the pope and the Church".

Francis’ health condition had already fueled speculation when he underwent colon surgery in July 2021. The pontiff suffers from chronic sciatica and had part of a lung removed in his youth.

"Under John Paul II, the progress of the disease was very visible, there were questions for years" Y "there was also often fake news"recalls Father Federico Lombardi, former director of the press office of the Holy See.

"With Benedict XVI, it was rather the weakness of age that progressed and led him to resign, gradually"he adds, referring to the pope emeritus, who is now 95 years old and lives in a Vatican monastery.

Consistory at the end of August

In September 2021, Francisco – who continues to receive political or religious leaders every morning – had ironized about the rumours. I’m still "I live although some want my death"he said at the time.

But three events fuel the rumors, including the August 27 consistory that will appoint new cardinals, including future electors in the event of a conclave, a very unusual time for this event.

The pope will then gather the world’s cardinals in Rome and visit the tomb of Celestine V, the first pontiff to resign in the 13th century, in L’Aquila.

This unprecedented conjunction intrigues the Italian and international press and some see it as an opportunity for the Pope to announce his decision.

But "for now, it’s about being realistic and not alarmist", qualifies Marco Politi. According to him, this meeting could also be a simple "moment of general discussion on the reform of the Curia"the Vatican government, made official by the entry into force of a new "Constitution" begining of June.

Another central issue for Francis is the World Synod of Bishops, a broad consultation on the organization of the Church that will end in 2023.

This event "it is almost a mini-council: so it seems difficult to imagine that the pope wants to leave halfway through this great project that he himself has decided"says Politi, who also points out the difficulty of having three popes in the Vatican.

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