Pope Francis wrote his resignation letter in case of health issues

 Pope Francis visits the Saint Louis Hospital on November 21, 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand. Pope Francis arrived in Bangkok yesterday to begin a three day tour in Thailand followed by Japan. This is the first visit by the head of the Roman Catholic church since St. John Paul II back in 1984. Thailand, a Buddhist country has approximately 388,000 Catholics, out of 69 million people. (Photo by Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)
Pope Francis visits the Saint Louis Hospital on November 21, 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand. Pope Francis arrived in Bangkok yesterday to begin a three day tour in Thailand followed by Japan. (Photo by Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)

OAN Newsroom Roy Francis
UPDATED 2:10 PM PT – Monday, December 19, 2022

Pope Francis had signed a letter of resignation back in 2013 in the case that he becomes unable to fulfill his duties.

In an interview with the Spanish daily newspaper ABC, the Pope said that he signed the letter in 2013, seven months after he was elected, and give it to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone who was the Secretary of State at the time.

“I signed it and said, ‘if should become impaired for medical reasons or whatever, here is my resignation,’” he said in the interview.

Pope Francis turned 86 on Saturday and has been known to down playing his mobility challenges.

“One governs with the head, not the knee.” The pope said.

Back in 2021, he had underwent a colon surgery to repair a bowel narrowing. For a period of some time, he was confined to a wheelchair because of knee pain, although in recent weeks he has opted to use a cane instead.

Pope Francis has said more than once that if he was unable to fulfill his duties, he would step down. However, the Catholic leader has shown no signs of slowing down in his leadership role as he maintains a busy schedule. The Pope is set to take a six-day trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan in January and February.

As the Catholic Church law requires a papal resignation be “freely and properly manifest[ed],” Pope Francis is not the first pope to write and sign such a letter.

In the interview with ABC, the Pope noted that St. Paul VI who had died in 1978, had written a similar letter. To add, St. John Paul II made similar preparations, in a 2010 book by Msgr. Slawomir Oder.