Pope Francis is squelching rumors that he plans to retire from his position as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, saying that the “papacy is for life” and he does not plan to step down.
The comments came during a Q and A session with Jesuits in the Congo and South Sudan, which was published Thursday.
When asked whether he planned to resign, the pope said that he wrote a resignation letter in case he was ever too incapacitated to resign due to a health event, but didn’t plan to do so otherwise.
“However, this does not at all mean that resigning popes should become, let’s say, a ‘fashion,’ a normal thing,” he went on.
He addressed Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation as courageous because of his health, but said he did not plan to follow the same path.
“Benedict had the courage to do it because he did not feel up to continuing due to his health. I for the moment do not have that on my agenda. I believe that the pope’s ministry is ad vitam. I see no reason why it should not be so,” he said.
“Ad vitam” means for life.
The pope has been both criticized and lauded for many of his comments about theological issues.
A controversial pope
He has said that homosexuality is a “sin but not a crime,” and has urged understanding rather than condemnation for those who have sinned according to the church’s rules and dictates.
He also said in 2013, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Still, he has held the line on LGBT+ issues and abortion and supported the official church positions on both.
In 2016, he said he thought that divorced and remarried people should be able to receive communion, which challenged the church’s position on the insolubility of marriage.
”It is possible that in an objective situation of sin … a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end,” Francis wrote at the time.
Some may wish for retirement
Some in the Catholic Church probably wish Francis would retire. Like most leaders who try to address controversy, Francis probably angered as many people as he assuaged, but he advanced his agenda of being more welcoming to some types of “sinners” that the church had previously shunned.
After all, it is Catholic teaching that all people are sinners, and to favor some sins as more acceptable than others simply isn’t scriptural.