Pope Francis Shoots Down Resignation Rumors, Papacy Is ‘for Life’

Pope Francis arrives in St. Peter's Square for his general weekly audience on June 22, 2022 in Vatican City, Vatican. In his greetings in Italian at the end of the Audience, the Pope urged everyone to remember Ukraine, as Russia's invasion grinds on. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Franco Origlia/Getty Images

ROME, Italy — Pope Francis has sought to squelch rumors of a possible papal resignation, insisting that he does not have this on his “agenda.”

Pope Benedict XVI “had the courage to do it because he did not feel up to continuing due to his health,” the pontiff told members of the Jesuit order in a Q&A session published Thursday, but this “does not at all mean that resigning popes should become, let’s say, a ‘fashion,’ a normal thing.”

“I for the moment do not have that on my agenda,” he added.

The pope went on to explain his belief that popes are elected for life rather than for a finite term.

“I believe that the pope’s ministry is ad vitam,” he said, employing the Latin expression meaning “for life.”

Pope Francis celebrates baptisms in the Sistine Chapel on January 08, 2023 in Vatican City, Vatican. Pope Francis baptized 13 babies in the magnificent setting provided by Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel on the day the Church celebrates the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. (Photo by Vatican Media via Vatican Pool/Getty Images)

Pope Francis celebrates baptisms in the Sistine Chapel on January 08, 2023, in Vatican City, Vatican. (Vatican Media via Vatican Pool/Getty Images)

“I see no reason why it should not be so,” he continued. “Think that the ministry of the great patriarchs is always for life! And the historical tradition is important.”

“If, on the other hand, we are listening to the ‘chatter,’ well, then we should change popes every six months!” he declared, in reference to repeated rumors that he is considering stepping down.

As he has done on other occasions, Francis acknowledged that he had written a resignation letter shortly after being elected and delivered this letter to then-secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

“I don’t know where this letter is. I did it in case I had some health problem that would prevent me from exercising my ministry and I am not fully conscious and able to resign,” he said.


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