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The AP Interview: Pope on well being, critics and future papacy

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VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis says he hasn’t even thought-about issuing norms to control future papal resignations and plans to proceed for so long as he can as bishop of Rome, regardless of a wave of assaults by some top-ranked cardinals and bishops .

In his first interview because the Dec. 31 dying of retired Pope Benedict XVI, Francis addressed his well being, his critics and the following section of his preach, which marks its tenth anniversary in March with out Benedict’s shadow within the background.

“I am in good well being. For my age, I am regular,” the 86-year-old Pontiff mentioned Tuesday, although he revealed that diverticulosis, or bulges in his intestinal wall, had “returned.” Francis had 33 centimeters (13 inches) of his giant gut eliminated in 2021 due to what the Vatican mentioned was irritation that brought about a narrowing of his colon.

He added {that a} slight bone fracture in his knee from a fall had healed with out surgical procedure after laser and magnet remedy.

“I would die tomorrow, but it surely’s underneath management. I am in good well being,” he advised The Related Press along with his typical wry humorousness.

Hypothesis about Francis’ well being and the way forward for his preach has solely risen following the dying of Benedict, whose 2013 resignation marked a turning level for the Catholic Church as the primary pontiff in six centuries to retire.

Some commentators imagine Francis is likely to be freer to maneuver now that Benedict, who lived out his 10-year retirement within the Vatican, is gone. Others counsel that any type of ecclesial peace that had reigned was over and that Francis is now extra uncovered to critics, disadvantaged of the moderating affect Benedict performed in maintaining the conservative Catholic fringe at bay.

Francis acknowledged the knives had been out, however appeared virtually sanguine about it.

“I would not relate it to Benedict, however due to the wear-and-tear of a authorities of 10 years,” Francis mentioned of his papacy. At first, his election of him was greeted with a way of “shock” a few South American pope, then got here discomfort “once they began to see my flaws and didn’t like them,” he mentioned.

“The one factor I ask is that they do it to my face, as a result of that is how all of us develop, proper?” he added.

Francis praised Benedict as a “gentleman,” and mentioned of his dying: “I misplaced a dad.”

“For me, he was a safety. Within the face of a doubt, I’d ask for the automobile and go to the monastery and ask,” he mentioned of his visits to Benedict’s retirement dwelling for counsel. “I misplaced an excellent companion.”

Some cardinals and canon legal professionals have mentioned the Vatican should challenge norms to control future papal retirements to forestall the few hiccups that occurred throughout Benedict’s unexpectedly lengthy retirement, throughout which he remained a degree of reference for some conservatives and traditionalists who refused to acknowledge Francis’ legitimacy .

From the title Benedict selected (emeritus pope) to the (white) cassock he wore to his occasional public remarks (on priestly celibacy and intercourse abuse), these commentators mentioned norms should clarify there is just one reigning pope for the sake of unity of the church.

Francis mentioned issuing such norms hadn’t even occurred to him.

“I am telling you the reality,” he mentioned, including that the Vatican wanted extra expertise with papal retirements earlier than getting down to “regularize or regulate” them.

Francis has mentioned Benedict “opened the door” to future resignations, and that he too would contemplate stepping down. He repeated Tuesday that if he had been to resign he’d be known as the emeritus bishop of Rome and would stay within the residence for retired monks within the diocese of Rome.

Francis mentioned Benedict’s resolution to stay in a transformed monastery within the Vatican Gardens was a “good intermediate resolution,” however that future retired popes would possibly wish to do issues otherwise.

“He was nonetheless ‘enslaved’ as a pope, no?” Francis mentioned. “Of the imaginative and prescient of a pope, of a system. ‘Slave’ within the good sense of the phrase: In that he wasn’t utterly free, as he would have appreciated to have returned to his Germany and continued finding out theology.”

By one calculation, Benedict’s dying removes the primary impediment to Francis resigning, because the prospect of two pensioner popes was by no means an possibility. However Francis mentioned Benedict’s dying hadn’t altered his calculations of him. “It did not even happen to me to put in writing a will,” he mentioned.

As for his personal near-term future, Francis emphasised his position as “bishop of Rome” versus pontiff and mentioned of his plans: “Proceed being bishop, bishop of Rome in communion with all of the bishops of the world.” He mentioned he needed to place to relaxation the idea of the papacy as an influence participant or papal “courtroom.”

Francis additionally addressed the criticism from cardinals and bishops that burst into public within the weeks since Benedict’s dying, saying it is disagreeable — “like a rash that bothers you a bit” — however that’s higher than maintaining it underneath wraps.

“You favor that they do not criticize, for the sake of tranquility,” Francis mentioned. “However I desire that they do it as a result of which means there’s freedom to talk.”

“If it is not like this, there can be a dictatorship of distance, as I name it, the place the emperor is there and nobody can inform him something. No, allow them to communicate as a result of… criticism lets you develop and enhance issues.”

The primary salvo within the wave of assaults got here from Benedict’s longtime secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, who revealed the dangerous blood that gathered over the past 10 years in a tell-all memoir revealed within the days after Benedict’s funeral.

In one of the explosive sections, Gaenswein revealed that Benedict discovered by studying the Vatican each day newspaper L’Osservatore Romano that Francis had reversed one of many former pope’s most vital liturgical selections and re-imposed restrictions on celebrating the Previous Latin Mass.

A number of days later, the Vatican was rattled anew by the dying of one other conservative stalwart, Cardinal George Pell, and revelations that Pell was the writer of a devastating memorandum that circulated final 12 months that known as the Francis preach a “catastrophe” and a “disaster.” .”

The memo, which was initially revealed underneath the pseudonym “Demos,” listed all the issues within the Vatican underneath Francis, from its precarious funds to the pontiff’s preaching type, and issued bullet factors for what a future pope ought to do to repair them.

Francis acknowledged Pell’s criticism however nonetheless sang his praises for having been his “right-hand man” on reforming the Vatican’s funds as his first economic system minister.

“Though they are saying he criticized me, high-quality, he has the appropriate. Criticism is a human proper,” Francis mentioned. However he added: “He was an excellent man. Nice.”

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