Pope Francis: Resignation already signed ‘in case of medical impediment’

Pope Francis General Audience Pope Francis on Nov. 30, 2022, during the weekly general audience at St. Peter's Square in The Vatican. | Daniel Ibáñez

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 Sstate,” 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.

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