Vatican City. – The fragile health status of Pope FranciscoWho has postponed his trip to Africa, sparking rumors of his possible resignation, but experts warn not to take it for granted.
His visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan, which was scheduled for the beginning of July, has been postponed indefinitely, and many are wondering if he will be able to make it to Canada at the end of that month, having been seen during such a short time. general appearances.
The Vatican He says the trip to Canada will remain “until further notice”.
Since the beginning of May, the 85-year-old pope has used a wheelchair or cane, weakened by severe pain in his right knee.
To alleviate this, Francis regularly receives injections and physiotherapy sessions, according to the Vatican, which does not draw attention to his health.
A source from the Vatican says the treatment “follows its course and bears fruit”. However, these rare last-minute changes to the Holy See’s agenda have re-raised concerns about the ability of Jorge Bergoglio The ruling has sparked rumors of a possible resignation.
This theory “comes back in a periodic fashion,” Italian Vatican Marco Poletti, author of “Francis, the Plague and the Renaissance,” analyzes.
“These rumors are fueled by opponents of the Pope who just want to see Francis leave,” he says.
In 2014, the Pope himself fueled the hypothesis, arguing that Pope Benedict XVI had “opened the door” by resigning from office.
Some experts see the possibility of the next exit. “In the pope’s entourage, most of them do not believe in the possibility of a resignation,” a Vatican source told AFP.
Alberto Meloni, historian of Christianity and secretary of the Foundation for Religious Sciences recalls: “From the moment we begin to say that the Pope is very ill, many years can pass: John Paul II’s illness began in 1993 and ended in 2005.”
“These are things in which there is a desire to understand and speculate, but there is not much that can be said,” he added, lamenting “the excessive media insanity about the Pope and the Church.”
Francis’ health condition already sparked speculation when he underwent colon surgery in July 2021. The pontiff suffers from chronic sciatica and had to have part of his lung removed in his youth.
“In the era of John Paul II, the progression of the disease was very clear, there were questions for years” and “often there were false news,” recalls Father Federico Lombardi, former director of the Holy See’s press office.
“With Benedict XVI, it was the weakness of age that developed and gradually led him to resign,” he adds, referring to the emeritus pope, who is 95 years old and lives in a Vatican monastery.
Contry at the end of August
In September 2021, Francis – who continues to receive political or religious leaders every morning – ridiculed the rumours. He said at the time that I was still “alive although some want me dead”.
But three events fuel rumors, including the August 27 council that will appoint new cardinals, including future electors in the event of the conclave, a very unusual time for this event.
The Pope will then gather world cardinals in Rome and visit the tomb of Celestine V, the first pope to resign in the thirteenth century, in L’Aquila.
This unprecedented pairing sparks the interest of the Italian and international press, and some see it as an opportunity for the Pope to announce his decision.
“Right now, it’s about sobering, not warning,” says Marco Politi. According to him, this meeting could also be a “moment for a public discussion on Korea’s reform,” which the Vatican government became official when a new “constitution” came into force at the beginning of June.
Another central topic for Francis is the World Synod of Bishops, a broad consultation on church organization that ends in 2023.
This event is “almost a mini-council: so it seems hard to imagine that the Pope would want to leave half of this great project that he himself decided,” says Politi, who also notes the difficulty of having three popes in the Vatican.
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