Pope Francis Says He Wrote Resignation Note In 2013
ROME, ITALY - DECEMBER 08: Pope Francis prays before the Column of the Immaculate Conception on December 08, 2022 in Rome, Italy. This papal tradition marks the beginning of the Christmas season as the Pope visits the monument and crowns the statue of Mary with a garland of flowers. This year, the Pope focused his prayers, in a special way, on peace in the world, and especially for peace in "martyred" Ukraine. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Franco Origlia/Getty Images

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis signed a resignation letter in 2013 and then handed it over to then-Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, the pope told a Spanish news outlet on Saturday. 

The pope’s comment was made during a wide-ranging interview with the Spanish outlet ABC, which covered topics from women in positions of leadership in the Church to traditional liturgy and the handling of the sex abuse crisis.

When journalists asked about the “delicate topic” of what could happen if he were suddenly disabled due to health or an accident, the pope responded, “I have already signed my resignation. It was Tarcisio Bertone, the secretary of state … I signed it and told him, ‘In case of impediment for medical reasons or whatever else I don’t know, here is my resignation.’” 

Pope Francis continued, re-emphasizing that the Vatican secretary of state has control of the document, for use in case he was incapacitated.

“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.” Pointing out that the pope had never revealed this in prior interviews, the pope stated he wanted it to be known. “That’s why I say it. Now, someone will have to go ask (Cardinal) Bertone for it: “Give me the piece of paper! (laughs). He surely handed it over to Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the new Secretary of State.”

When asked if the position of “emeritus pope,” like that of Pope Benedict XVI, would be made a “well-defined statute,” the pope replied, “No. I’ve not touched that at all, nor has the idea crossed my mind. It seems the Holy Spirit has no interest in me taking care of such things.”

In July 2021, the 86-year-old Pope Francis underwent surgery to remove a large portion of his left colon, leaving the hospital 10 days later. It was later reported that “disagreeable side-effects of the general anesthesia left the Roman Pontiff unwilling to undergo further operations, particularly on his knee. He has been seen either with a cane or wheelchair-bound since Easter of this year.

His deteriorating health has led to several false reports and rumors that Pope Francis is imminently dying. Unsubstantiated reporting has been left mostly unchecked by the Vatican, leading to reports such as one by Newsmax last December (which has yet to be retracted by Newsmax) or a viral tweet from Megyn Kelly, claiming media presence and increased clergy in the Vatican was due to “reports” of a pending resignation of the pope.

It seems that Pope Francis has left little doubt about his intentions, at least in case of incapacitation, during this interview.

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