Francis has fueled speculation that he may resign after announcing an usual visit to L’Aquila, which hosts the tomb of St. Celestine V, the last pope to resign before Benedict XVI.
VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis might be resigning according to the Associated Press.
— Edward Pentin (@EdwardPentin) June 6, 2022
The AP reported that “Italian and Catholic media have been rife with unsourced speculation that the 85-year-old Francis might be planning to follow in Benedict’s footsteps who also resigned when he was 85.”
Recently the Pope has been seen traveling via wheelchair as illness and mobility problems have caught up with him in his old age.
Francis expressed his intention to visit L’Aquila in August for a feast associated with Pope Celestine V – the last pope to resign before Pope Benedict XVI.
Francis will visit L’Aquila and say Mass on August 28 and open the “Holy Door” at the basilica hosting Celestine’s tomb. This will take place the day immediately after the consistory on August 27 where he is set to make a slew of new cardinals, 16 of whom are voting age.
The visit coincides with the L’Aquila church’s celebration of the Feast of Forgiveness, which was created by Celestine V.
The timing of the August consistory is also curious according to the AP for another reason: “The Vatican and the rest of Italy are usually on holiday in August to mid-September, with all but essential business closed. Calling a major consistory in late August to create new cardinals, gathering churchmen for two days of talks on implementing his reform and making a symbolically significant pastoral visit suggests Francis might have out-of-the-ordinary business in mind.”
The basilica in L’Aquila hosts the tomb of Pope Celestine V, a hermit pope who resigned after five months in 1294. Benedict visited L’Aquila in 2009 after a devastating earthquake and prayed at Celestine’s tomb, leaving his pallium stole on it.
“No one at the time appreciated the significance of the gesture,” wrote the AP. “But four years later, the 85-year-old Benedict would follow in Celestine’s footsteps and resign, saying he no longer had the strength of body and mind to carry on the rigors of the papacy.”
EWTN host and Fox News contributor Raymond Arroyo opined that the Pope’s failing health has much to do with why he might resign.
Rumors abound that @Pontifex could resign after an announced visit to L’Aquila. #PopeCelestineV (who resigned) is buried there. PopeBenedictXVI visited before his resignation. But the Pope’s wheelchair may say more about his resignation than this visit. https://t.co/YmtJ0m3YMO
— Raymond Arroyo (@RaymondArroyo) June 5, 2022
In 2015, on the second anniversary of his ascension to the Papacy, Francis told Mexican broadcaster Televisa that he was open to resigning. “I share the idea of what Benedict did,” he said, referring to his resignation. “In general, I think what Benedict so courageously did was to open the door to the popes emeritus. Benedict should not be considered an exception, but an institution.”