Pope Francis has denied wanting to quit or having cancer, two rumours prompted by the announcement that he is to visit the shrine of a medieval pope who resigned at the end of the 13th century like Francis’s predecessor Benedict XVI.
On Saturday afternoon Pope Francis gave a 90-minute interview, conducted in Italian, with no aides present, during which the 85-year-old pontiff also repeated his condemnation of abortion following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last month.
He added that he is on track to visit Canada this month and hopes to be able to go to Moscow and Kyiv as soon as possible after that.
Francis also denied rumours that he had cancer, joking that his doctors “didn’t tell me anything about it”, and for the first time gave details of the knee condition that has prevented him carrying out some duties.
The rumour mill was set in motion by the Vatican announcement that Francis will visit Celestine V’s shrine in Aquila, central Italy, in mid August which is associated with Pope Celestine V. Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world in 2013 when he became the second pope since Celestine to abdicate.
Pope Francis firmly declared, “But it never entered my mind. For the moment no, for the moment, no. Really!” He did however, repeat that he might resign someday if failing health made it impossible for him to lead the Church- a possibility that has emerged since Benedict XVI resigned the position in 2013.