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On cancer rumors, knee pain, retirement chatter – Pope tells what’s on his mind

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Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA | I.Media

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 07/04/22

When it comes to the health of the 85-year-old Pope, there's plenty of chatter. Pope Francis tells Reuters his plans.

As Pope Francis is 85, often using a wheelchair, had a significant surgery a year ago today, and has said from the beginning of his pontificate that retirement is an option, it’s to be expected that there’s plenty of chatter about his future.

But the Pope himself says retirement is not on his radar for the moment.

Speaking July 2 with Reuter’s Philip Pullella, he said, “For the moment no, for the moment, no. Really!”

And when could retirement become an option?: “We don’t know. God will say.”

Benedict won’t be the last

In an interview with Mexico’s Televisa in 2015 (just two years into his pontificate), Francis said that Benedict’s resignation had set a tone for the Church, establishing a precedent similar to that of bishops of dioceses other than Rome, where a bishop emeritus is common. “Some 70 years ago, we didn’t have bishops emeritus and now we have 1,400,” he said.

“I think what Pope Benedict did was open a door,” Francis said. “I think that what Benedict did with a lot of courage was open the door to popes emeritus.”

Benedict shouldn’t be considered an exception, Francis went on to say. Even if he was the first to resign in many centuries, he won’t be the only one.

Knee issue

Pope Francis gave some detail about his knee injury to Reuters, explaining that he caused a “small fracture” with a misstep when the ligament was already inflamed. But he added, “I am slowly getting better.”

The Pope should have left the day of the interview for Congo and South Sudan, but that trip was postponed in order to enable another 3 weeks of therapy and not jeopardize the gains already made.

He’s set to visit Canada at the end of this month and that trip is still going forward, though with a reduced schedule.

Pope Francis also denied cancer rumors that have circulated in some media after the July 2021 colon surgery.

If the doctors had discovered cancer, he joked, “they didn’t tell me anything about it.”

But the Holy Father did repeat that he’s not interested in knee surgery, since the general anesthesia for the colon operation had been difficult.

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