Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict embrace each other at the Vatican’s Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, June 30, 2015. / L’Osservatore Romano.
Rome Newsroom, Jan 25, 2023 / 08:50 am (CNA).
In a new interview published Wednesday, Pope Francis said the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI meant he had lost a “good companion” and a father figure.
“I lost a dad,” Pope Francis told the Associated Press, praising his predecessor — who died on Dec. 31, 2022, at the age of 95 — as a “gentleman.”
Francis said he would visit Benedict for counsel at the converted monastery Mater Ecclesiae in the Vatican Gardens, where the retired pope resided.
“For me, he was a security. In the face of a doubt, I would ask for the car and go to the monastery and ask.”
The 86-year-old pontiff called Benedict’s decision to live in Mater Ecclesiae a “good intermediate solution” in the wide-ranging interview that also included remarks about the Church’s stance on homosexuality, the German Synodal Way — and his health.
Pope Francis has repeatedly praised his predecessor. In April of last year, he described Benedict as “a prophet” of the Church’s future and in November acknowledged his leadership in responding to sexual abuse. On Jan. 4, he said Benedict brought Catholics to an “encounter with Jesus.”
Francis, who has not ruled out retiring, said Benedict’s decision to live in a converted monastery in the Vatican Gardens was a “good intermediate solution” but that future retired popes might want to do things differently.
“He was still ‘enslaved’ as a pope, no?” Francis said.
“Of the vision of a pope, of a system. ‘Slave’ in the good sense of the word: In that he wasn’t completely free, as he would have liked to have returned to his Germany and continued studying theology.”
Benedict “opened the door” to future resignations, Pope Francis said. The pope also confirmed what he said six months ago: If he should retire, he would choose the title of “bishop emeritus of Rome” — not “pope emeritus” — and live neither in his native Argentina nor the Vatican but in Rome.
Asked if he would reside at Archbasilica of St. John Lateran in a TV interview broadcast on July 12, 2022, Francis said “that could be,” since he would like to retire “to hear confessions at a church.”
Pope Francis, seated in a wheelchair, greets a child during the pope’s general audience at the Vatican on Jan. 25, 2023. / Vatican Media
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jan 25, 2023 / 08:30 am (CNA).
Pope Francis has revealed a recurrence of the intestinal ailment that has plagued him in recent years while also professing to be in good health for his age.
He also indicated he has no plans to resign, although if he were to step down he reiterated that he would want to be called “bishop emeritus of Rome,” rather than “pope emeritus,” the title given his predecessor, Benedict XVI.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Associated Press published Wednesday that also included pointed remarks about homosexuality, the pope disclosed that diverticulosis, or bulges in his intestinal wall, had “returned.”
At the same time, however, the 86-year-old pontiff — who is preparing to embark on a pilgrimage to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo next week — insisted he was in relatively good condition.
“I’m in good health. For my age, I’m normal,” he told the AP on Jan. 24.
Rumors of Francis’ possible resignation, and speculation that his health problems are more serious than the Vatican has acknowledged, have swirled since he underwent surgery in 2021 to have 33 centimeters (13 inches) of his large intestine removed for what the Vatican said was inflammation of his colon.
A slight fracture in his knee Francis suffered in a fall also has made it visibly painful for him to walk, making it necessary for him to rely on a cane and a wheelchair. But Francis told the AP that the fracture had healed without surgery after laser and magnet therapy.
Speaking about papal retirements, Francis dismissed speculation that he is preparing to issue norms for how future papal abdications will be handled.
“I’m telling you the truth,” he said, adding that it was premature to “regularize or regulate” papal retirements because the Vatican had too little experience upon which to draw. Benedict XVI, who died Dec. 31, 2022, after nearly a decade of retirement, was the first pope to step down in nearly 600 years.
Francis hasn’t ruled out retiring, and he repeated Tuesday that if he did so he would be called the bishop emeritus of Rome and would live in the residence for retired priests in the Diocese of Rome.
Benedict’s decision to live in a converted monastery in the Vatican Gardens was a “good intermediate solution,” he told the AP, but future retired popes might want to choose a different course.
“He was still ‘enslaved’ as a pope, no?” Francis said. “Of the vision of a pope, of a system. ‘Slave’ in the good sense of the word: in that he wasn’t completely free, as he would have liked to have returned to his Germany and continued studying theology.”
Pope Francis on Nov. 30, 2022, during the weekly general audience at St. Peter’s Square in The Vatican. / Daniel Ibáñez
Bogotá, Colombia, Dec 17, 2022 / 20:45 pm (CNA).
Pope Francis said that in case of not being able to continue governing the Catholic Church due to an impediment to his health, he has already signed his resignation and has given it to one of the Vatican cardinals.
During an interview given to the Spanish newspaper ABC and published early Sunday morning in Spain, the Holy Father responded to the question of what would happen “if a pontiff is suddenly disabled due to health problems or an accident.”
“I have already signed my resignation,” Pope Francis replied, adding that he did so when the Vatican Secretary of State was Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
“I signed it and told him: ‘In case of impediment for medical reasons or whatever it may be, here is my resignation.’ They already have it. I don’t know who Cardinal Bertone gave it to, but I gave it to him when he was Secretary of State,” he said.
Cardinal Bertone was appointed Secretary of State by Benedict XVI in 2006 and continued in office until Aug. 31, 2013, during the pontificate of Pope Francis.
When asked if he wanted this to become known, Francis replied “that’s why I’m saying it.”
“Now someone will go to ask Bertone for it: ‘Give me that piece of paper!’” the pope said, laughing. “He probably handed it over to Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the new Secretary of State. I gave it to Bertone as he was the Secretary of State,” he said.
During the interview, Francis said that he hasn’t delved “at all” into a statute to specify the definition of pope emeritus.
“I didn’t even have the idea of doing it. It must be that the Holy Spirit has no interest in me being concerned about those things,” he said.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
Pope Celestine V was canonized in 1313 and since 1327 has been buried in the Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio in L’Aquila. / Daniel Ibáñez / CNA
Rome Newsroom, Aug 21, 2022 / 03:38 am (CNA).
Peter of Morrone was an unusual choice for pope.
He was not a cardinal, for one, but a Benedictine monk and hermit living in a remote mountainous cave. He was also around 80 years of age.
But the Church’s 11 living cardinals had spent more than two years in a stalemate over the new pope’s election. So when the saintly Peter delivered to the cardinals the message that God would punish them for any further delays — his name was put forward, and soon after, on Jul. 5, 1294, a consensus was reached.
Bishops carried to Peter’s mountain hermitage the news of his election to the papacy. He reportedly was reluctant to accept, even trying to flee. Still, on Aug. 29, 1294, he was crowned Pope Celestine V in the Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio in the city of L’Aquila.
According to historical sources, besides kings, nobles, and cardinals, more than 200,000 people attended the ceremony, a grand moment of celebration.
One month later, one of Celestine’s first actions as pope was to declare the possibility for anyone to receive a plenary indulgence who, having confessed his or her sins and sincerely repented of them, devotedly visited the Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio between sunset on Aug. 28 and sunset on Aug. 29, the feast of the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist.
A plenary indulgence is a grace granted by the Catholic Church through the merits of Jesus Christ, Mary, and all the saints to remove the temporal punishment due to sin.
Celestine’s indulgence was exceptional at the time, given it was available to anyone, regardless of status or wealth, and cost nothing except personal repentance at a time when indulgences were often tied to almsgiving. For this reason, some consider the Celestinian Forgiveness, as it came to be called, history’s first jubilee.
Unfortunately, Pope Celestine V did not reign long enough to see the legacy of his indulgence. As pope in 1294, he was also the ruler of the Papal States, but he soon proved to be an ineffectual political leader.
On Dec. 13, five months after his election, he resigned from the papacy.
Pope Boniface VIII, Celestine’s successor, imprisoned the former pope out of fear that opponents to the resignation might try to install Celestine as an antipope. Celestine V died a prisoner ten months later.
Peter of Morrone was canonized in 1313 and since 1327 has been buried in the Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio in L’Aquila.
According to Johannes Grohe, a professor of Medieval History, the Celestinian Forgiveness was the precursor to the Holy Years, or Jubilees, which the Church typically celebrates every 25 years.
In 1300, Pope Boniface VIII issued a bull of indulgence proclaiming that Christians who confessed their sins, received the Eucharist and made a pilgrimage to Rome could receive a plenary indulgence.
Boniface VIII “was inspired” by Celestine V’s own “Jubilee” in L’Aquila, which started in 1294 and continued after his papal abdication and death, Grohe told EWTN News in an interview last month. “This indulgence of Pope Celestine V was the precursor, one could say, to the first great Jubilee.”
Both traditions continue to this day. In L’Aquila, the Celestinian Forgiveness, or Perdonanza Celestiniana as it is called in Italian, will celebrate its 728th year with a visit from Pope Francis on Aug. 28 to open the Holy Door.
Now a week-long festival, the Forgiveness has come to be an essential cultural, as well as spiritual, event.
Jubilee years in the Church, also called Holy Years, have continued throughout the centuries. A critical aspect of a Holy Year is the indulgence attached to walking through the Holy Door of one of Rome’s four major basilicas, including St. Peter’s.
Preparations are already underway in Rome and the Vatican for the next ordinary jubilee in 2025.