Pope Francis’ announcement of a symbolic city visit fuels rumors of a possible resignation | Univision Religion News

Rome, Italy.- Pope Francis announced in August a visit to the central Italian city of L’Aquila for a holiday initiated by Pope Celestine V, one of the few pontiffs who resigned before Pope Benedict XVI abdicated in 2013. The announcement sparked rumors that Perhaps the Pope was planning to retire, like his predecessor.

Recently, due to Francis’ growing mobility problems, which forced him to use a wheelchair, Italian and Catholic media have been speculating, without sources or evidence, that the 85-year-old Pope might consider retirement.

Those rumors gained traction last week when Francis announced on August 27 the orchestration of 21 new Cardinals, 16 of whom are under 80 and will be eligible to become his successor.

Once added to the ranks of lordships of the Church, Francis would have filled the College of Cardinals with 83 of the 132 voting-age cardinals. Although there is no guarantee of how they will vote, the chances of them being elected to a successor who shares Francis’ pastoral priorities are increasing.

In announcing the August 27 council, Francis also announced that he would host two days of talks the following week to brief the cardinals on his latest Apostolic Constitution, which is reforming the Vatican bureaucracy. The document, which took effect on Sunday, allows women to head Vatican offices, places restrictions on priestly staff at the Vatican and sets the Holy See as an institution serving local churches and not the other way around.

Pope Francis was elected in 2013 with a mandate to reform the Roman Curia. So far, when you have been able to implement your project, at least in part, it can be said that your task is, in part, fulfilled. That is why the routine announcement on Saturday of a pastoral visit to L’Aquila had more speculative weight than usual.

Which is that the Vatican and the rest of Italy usually take a vacation from August to mid-September, with all but essential businesses closed. For this reason, the convening of a major congress at the end of August to appoint new cardinals, and a two-day meeting of the clergy for talks about carrying out its reform and for a symbolically significant pastoral visit, have raised doubts as to whether, pontiff, you may have extraordinary matters in your mind.

Vatican commentator Robert Mikens wrote on Twitter, referring to an article he published in La Croix International about rumors of the future of the papacy.

L’Aquila, the historical city that Pope Francis will visit

L’Aquila church houses the tomb of Celestine V, a hermit pope who resigned five months later in 1294, overwhelmed with work. In 2009, Benedict XVI visited L’Aquila, devastated by a recent earthquake, and prayed at Celestine’s tomb, placing a mastaba over it.

No one at the time appreciated the meaning of the gesture. But four years later, 85-year-old Benedict followed in Celestino’s footsteps and resigned, saying he no longer had the physical and mental strength to continue the ruthlessness of the papacy.

The Vatican announced on Saturday that Francis will visit L’Aquila to celebrate Mass on August 28 and open the “Holy Door” in the chapel that houses Celestine’s tomb. This moment coincides with the celebration of Yom Kippur in the church of L’Aquila, which Celestine created in a papal bull.

The current Archbishop of L’Aquila, Cardinal Giuseppe Petrucci, said no pope has traveled to L’Aquila since then to close the annual feast, which celebrates the sacrament of forgiveness so dear to Francis.

“We hope that all people, especially those affected by internal differences and divisions, will be able to (come) and find the path of solidarity and peace,” he said in a statement announcing the visit.

There is “no basis” to talk about the possible resignation of Pope Francis

Francis praised Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to step down as a way to “open the door” for future popes to do the same, and originally foresaw a short period of papacy for himself of two to five years.

Nine years later, the pontiff has shown no signs of wanting to resign and still has important projects looming.

In addition to upcoming trips this year to Congo, South Sudan, Canada and Kazakhstan, he has set 2023 as the date for a grand meeting of the world’s bishops to discuss the growing decentralization of the Catholic Church, as well as the continued implementation of its reforms.

But Pope Francis was hampered by ligaments in his right knee, which made walking difficult and painful. He told friends he did not want surgery, due to his reaction to anesthesia last July, when 13 inches (33 cm) of his large intestine was removed.

This week, one of his closest advisers and friends, Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, said talk of the Pope’s resignation or the end of Francis’ pontificate is baseless. “I think these are optical illusions, cerebral illusions,” Maradiaga told Religion Digital.

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