Twice in ten days, Pope Francis has dismissed media speculation about a possible impending resignation from the pontificate, as well as rumors of serious illness.
Several Brazilian bishops met Francis during their ad limina visit to Rome. They said on June 22, 2022 that the Pope confessed to them that he has no thoughts of resigning, as some in the media say, and that he wants to continue his mission “as much as God will allow,” according to Vatican media.
Roque Paloschi, the Archbishop of Porto Velho, told Vatican news that Francis told him “he had many challenges to face, but what is in the press [referring to his possible resignation] did not come from him, not from his mind,” when the subject of his health came up during a meeting on Monday with a group of Brazilian bishops on an ad limina visit.
Msgr. Lúcio Nicoletto, diocesan administrator of Roraima, added that he saw in Francis an obvious “frailty” which fueled the rumors. Thus, the Supreme Pontiff's persistent knee problems have led several journalists and Vaticanists to speculate that the 85-year-old may be preparing his impending resignation.
However, those who are familiar with the personality of the sovereign pontiff when he was head of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires have indicated on several occasions that it would be practically impossible for Francis to resign, unless he was stricken with an illness affecting his mental health.
Interview with a Vaticanist
On July 4, 2022, in an interview with the Vaticanist Philip Pullella, Pope Francis clarified the reason for his knee pain: he confessed to having suffered a “small fracture” in one of his knees during a misstep, when the joint had already been weakened by inflammation of the ligaments, without specifying the date of the incident.
The pope added: “I am slowly getting better,” assuring that his fracture was reducing, healing being aided by laser therapy and magnetotherapy - a method based on the use of magnetic fields.
Francis further dismissed rumors of cancer, a pathology which would have been discovered during the operation he underwent in July 2021. But he also affirmed that he did not wish to have knee surgery, because the general anesthesia of last year had negative side effects.
Finally, the convocation of a consistory on the unusual date of August 27 and the pope's wish to go the next day to the Italian city of Aquila where Celestine V rests - the last pope to have freely abdicated before the resignation of Benedict XVI in 2013 – fueled many rumors about a possible resignation by the pope at the end of the summer.
But, on the subject of a resignation at that time, the Argentine pope insisted: “It never crossed my mind. For the moment, no, for the moment, no. Really!”
However, he explained that he could resign the day his failing health made him unable to lead the Church. Asked when that might happen, he told Phillip Pullella: “We don't know. God will tell.”