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Popes Are for Life, Resigning Is not a Normal Thing, Says Pope Francis

Pope Francis had said that resignation of Pontiffs should not become a fashion in the Roman Catholic Church.

Pope Francis, during his recent trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo, spoke out against the trend of popes resigning and warned that it should not become a “fashion.”

“Popes are for life,” he said. “It is an honor and a burden, but it is for life. Resignations should not become a fashion, and if a pope feels that he cannot go on, he should pray and reflect and seek spiritual direction, but he should not run away.” 

He said that a few months after his election in 2013, he gave a Vatican official a letter of resignation as a standby in case he suffers health issues that might leave him permanently unconscious. 

“This does not, however, in any way mean that popes retiring should become, let’s say, a fashion, a normal thing,” he said. 

“I believe that the papal ministry should be for life. I don’t see a reason why it should not be this way…historic tradition is important. If instead we listen to gossip, then we would have to change popes every six months,” he said.

Pope Francis himself has not ruled out the possibility of resigning, but he has previously stated that he would follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who resigned in 2013, only if he felt he could no longer carry out his duties.

During his visit to the DRC, Pope Francis also spoke out against corruption and violence in the country and called for greater efforts to tackle poverty and promote social justice. The pope’s trip to the DRC was his first international visit since the COVID-19 pandemic, and it was seen as a sign of his commitment to the Church’s mission to serve the poor and marginalized.

The DRC has been plagued by conflict and instability for many years, and Pope Francis used his visit to call for greater efforts to promote peace and reconciliation.

Overall, the pope’s comments on the importance of the papacy being a lifelong commitment and the need to resist the trend of resignations were seen as a reaffirmation of the Church’s traditions and values.

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