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.