The death of Benedict XVI “opens the door” to the eventual resignation of Pope Francis


The death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has once again triggered hypotheses about a possible resignation of Francis now that he would have no impediment, but the Argentine pontiff has recently clarified that he maintains his plans for the future, such as the celebration of the Synod of 2024 or the Rome Jubilee of 2025.

Francisco has spoken about this possibility on several occasions: “The door is open, it’s a normal option, but until today I haven’t knocked on that door, I haven’t felt like thinking about that option. Even if that doesn’t mean I don’t start thinking about it the day after tomorrow, right? The Lord will decide”, he said, even if he also made it clear: “But, honestly, not at this time”.

“The question that is emerging in the Church, with the death of Joseph Ratzinger, is whether Pope Francis will also want to consider the option of his resignation, naturally with times and methods to be analyzed and certainly not immediately, but with fewer obstacles than usual … this would mean the presence of another pope emeritus alive”, wrote Franca Giansoldati, Vatican correspondent of “Il Messaggero”, the only newspaper that Jorge Bergoglio reads this Sunday.

For other Vatican correspondents, such as Iacopo Scaramucci of the newspaper “La Repubblica”, “if there is one certainty it is that (Francis) will never delegate the ‘throne of Peter’ which was assigned to him by the Holy Spirit through the cardinal electors, and if he will do it, it will be in case of medical impediment, as he revealed in the interview with the Spanish newspaper ABC when he confessed that he had already written his resignation only in that case”.

Scaramuci explained to EFE that with his statements to that media, the Argentine pontiff “laid the foundations for his future decision, broadened its scope, but at the same time gave it a perimeter: a pope resigns decisively autonomous, when his physical, mental, spiritual state no longer allows him to govern”.

What is not now, nor will it be in a short period of time, almost all specialists point out.

Massimo Franco, political analyst for Corriere della Sera and author of several books on Benedict XVI and his coexistence with Francis, such as “El Monasterio”, interprets in a conversation with EFE that “the fact that the question of the resignation is circulating suggests that the death does not stabilize, but even risks destabilizing the pontificate of Francis”.

“The anomaly of these 10 years (since the resignation of the German pope) has substantially helped and this has been the norm. Now that Benedict is not there, the rumors of resignation and the maneuvers to prepare for the next conclave will multiply”, he adds , explaining that a new renunciation “would become a practice” for the Church and would change it forever.

Francis will go on for several more years “for cyclical and calendar reasons”, given that he has a series of commitments such as the Synod of Synodality which has postponed the final assembly to 2024 or the Jubilee of 2025, he explained to the Geopolitics professor Vatican Piero Schiavazzi EFE.

Furthermore, the Pope must continue the rapprochement he initiated with Moscow and Beijing and which suffered a setback due to the war and the pandemic: “If it weren’t for this, perhaps he will resign next March, 10 years since his pontificate), but now it won’t because it will leave the image of a Church impotent in the face of war or unable to negotiate with China”, he says.

“There are too many things he has put on the table. Resigning is not a mature decision at the moment, if not for a worsening of his health conditions, but he is very clear-headed”, adds Schiavazzi.

In the ABC interview, the Pope, who was already aware of Ratzinger’s fragile state of health, clarified his agenda for 2023, with a trip to Africa in February and his participation in the Mediterranean Meeting in Marseille (France ), as well as anticipating: “In two years I will appoint a woman to head a dicastery”.

And he left no doubts about his state of health: “He rules with his head and not with his legs”.

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