The 85-year-old pope was asked multiple times during the press conference about whether he would resign in light of the physical health limitations he has faced in recent months.
Francis told one journalist in response: “Whatever the Lord says. The Lord can tell me to resign. It is the Lord who commands.”
He explained that “discernment is key in a Jesuit’s vocation” and that means that “he must be open to whatever the Lord asks of him.”
Pope Francis also acknowledged that in the meantime he may need to slow down a bit with his travel schedule due to his health.
“I don't think I can move at the same pace of travel as before,” the pope said.
“Knee surgery is not planned in my case. The experts say yes, but there is the whole problem of anesthesia. Ten months ago I underwent more than six hours of anesthesia and there are still traces. You don't play, you don't mess around with anesthesia,” he said.
The pope added that he will try to continue to go on trips to be close to people “because I think it is a way of service.”
In particular, Francis highlighted that he would “like to go to Ukraine.” He said that he expects his planned trip to Kazakhstan in September to attend the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions to be a calm visit.
The pope spoke at the end of a week-long journey to Canada in which he traveled to Edmonton, Québec, and Iqaluit on what he called a “penitential pilgrimage” to apologize to the country’s indigenous communities.
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.
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