He said he gave the letter to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state at the time, but he does not know now where the letter is.
“However, this does not at all mean that resigning popes should become, let’s say, ‘the fashion,’ a normal thing. Benedict had the courage to do it because he did not feel like going on because of his health. I for the moment do not have that on my agenda,” he said.
“Think that the ministry of the great patriarchs is always for life,” he added. “And the historical tradition is important.”
Pope Francis also said that if the Church listened to the gossip it should change popes every six months.
The pope again addressed the question of his possible resignation in a meeting with Jesuit priests in South Sudan, which he visited Feb. 3-5.
The encounter with 11 Jesuits serving in the east African country took place on Feb. 4 in Juba.
Francis told the group that “no, [resignation] didn’t cross my mind.”
He mentioned again the letter he signed in case his health should deteriorate to a point he could not resign and pointed to the resignation letter Venerable Pope Pius XII prepared in case he should be kidnapped by Hitler.
Hannah Brockhaus is Catholic News Agency's senior Rome correspondent. She grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and has a degree in English from Truman State University in Missouri.
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