Pope Francis has spoken publicly about the prospect of his own death for the first time, giving himself ‘two or three years’ before he meets his maker.
In a press conference aboard his jet as he returned from a trip to South Korea, Francis also mentioned the possibility of retiring from the Papacy if he felt he could no longer perform his duties.
His predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI resigned last year, an almost-unprecedented move that opened the way for Francis’s accession to the Papal throne.
‘I see it as the generosity of the people of God. I try to think of my sins, my mistakes, not to become proud. Because I know it will last only a short time,’ ‘Two or three years and then I’ll be off to the Father’s House.’
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While the Pope has not spoken publicly before about when he might die, a Vatican source said he had previously told those close to him that he thought he only had a few years left.
Although the Francis is 77, he has been the most vigorous Pope in years, his energy proving the key to his popularity. His frank admission may lead commentators to speculate as to whether he has any undisclosed health problems.
At the time of his elevation to the Papacy, reports emerged that Francis had a lung removed when he was a teenager in Argentina after suffering an infection.
Pope Francis also said that Resigning the papacy, as his predecessor Benedict XVI did last year, was also a possibility ‘even if it does not appeal to some theologians’.
He added that 60 years ago it was practically unheard of for Catholic bishops to retire, but nowadays it was common.
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