– I don’t think I can continue to travel to the same extent as before, the 85-year-old pope said as he returned home to the Vatican on Saturday after completing a six-day visit to Canada.
There he had to resort to the wheelchair several times due to knee problems.
– I think that at my age and with this limitation I have to restrain myself a little to serve the church. Alternatively, I am thinking of the possibility of resigning, the pope continued.
Benedikt went ahead
It is not the first time that the pope has raised the possibility of stepping down and following the example of his predecessor Benedict XVI.
He resigned in 2013 due to failing health and now lives a quiet life in the Vatican. It was the first time a pope had resigned since the Middle Ages, and the decision sent shockwaves through the Catholic Church.
Already the following year, in 2014, Pope Francis said that if he had health problems, he would consider stepping down. And in May this year, according to Italian media, he jokingly said he would rather retire than have knee surgery. The statement was reportedly made during a closed meeting with the bishops.
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On Saturday, he called a possible departure a “normal choice”.
– But so far I haven’t knocked on that door. But that doesn’t mean I won’t start thinking about it the day after tomorrow, does it? But for the moment, I don’t think about it, he said.
He called the trip to Canada a bit of a test and admitted it was really too much for a man in his condition and it was time for a change of style.
During his visit to Canada, the pope asked for forgiveness for the injustice that Catholic schools have committed against the indigenous population of the country in connection with the forced transfer of thousands of children to boarding schools.
On the flight home, he called the treatment of the indigenous population genocide.
– I didn’t say the word in Canada because I couldn’t think of it, but I described the genocide. And I asked forgiveness for this process, which was genocide, the pope told reporters who accompanied him on the trip.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada determined in 2015 that the forced placement of Indigenous children in boarding schools was “cultural genocide.”
From the late 19th century to the 1970s, 150,000 children were exposed to the country’s assimilation policy, the aim of which was to deprive children of their original culture, language and identity. Thousands of people have died while in schools, and in recent years a number of unmarked graves have been discovered linked to now-closed schools.
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