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Pope Francis admitted he needs to either cut back or think about retiring.
Francis, 85, shared the remarks on a flight on Saturday as he returned to Rome after a trip to Canada.
“I think that at my age and with this limitation I have to save some energy to be able to serve the Church, or on the contrary, think about the possibility of stepping down,” Francis said.
“I don’t think I can continue doing trips with the same rhythm as before,” he said. “But I will try to continue to travel in order to be close to people because it is a way of serving.”
The pope has frequently used a wheelchair, walker, or cane in recent weeks following a knee injury.
“This, with all honesty, is not a catastrophe. There can be a change of popes, there is no problem with that,” Francis added. “The door is open. It is one of the normal options. Up until today, I did not use that door. I did not think it was necessary to think of this possibility, but that does not mean that the day after tomorrow I don’t start thinking about it.”
The admission comes following a week of traveling across Canada, where Francis met with indigenous leaders to apologize for past mistreatment by the Catholic Church.
According to the Associated Press, more than 150,000 native children in Canada were forced to attend Christian schools from the 19th century until the 1970s.
Rumors of Francis retiring have circulated since May, when he was first seen in public using a wheelchair. Speculation continued in June when he announced a visit to L’Aquila, Italy, the same location the previous church leader, Pope Benedict XVI, visited ahead of his own retirement announcement.
During a Reuters interview earlier in July, Francis shut down the rumors of his possible retirement.
“But it never entered my mind. For the moment, no, for the moment, no. Really!” the pope stated.
His trip to Canada might have revealed the need for Francis to slow down his travels or face retirement sooner than he anticipated. Francis had previously noted his interest in traveling to both Kyiv and Moscow to help encourage peace between Ukraine and Russia.
The pope also made headlines recently over a Univision interview during which he claimed that President Joe Biden’s claim to be Catholic yet support abortion is “incoherent.” The Catholic Church’s teachings oppose abortion.
“A month after conception, the DNA of the fetus is already there and the organs are aligned. There is human life,” the pope said during the interview. “Is it just to eliminate a human life?”
As The Daily Wire previously reported, Francis referred Biden to speak to his spiritual advisors regarding the church’s understanding of the issue of human life in the womb.
“I leave it to [President Biden’s] conscience and that he speaks to his bishop, his pastor, his parish priest about that incoherence,” he added.