Dec 18, 2022 - World

Pope Francis signed resignation note in 2013 in case of health problems

Pope Francis in the Vatican on Dec. 18.

Pope Francis in the Vatican on Dec. 18. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis revealed in a wide-ranging interview with the Spanish daily newspaper ABC published Sunday that he signed a resignation letter "in case of impediment due to health reasons" after he was elected pontiff in 2013.

Why it matters: Francis, who turned 86 on Saturday, said earlier this year after a pilgrimage to Canada that "the door is open" for him to eventually resign or retire.

  • He underwent bowel surgery in 2021 and recently used a wheelchair while getting treatment for knee pain, though he is now using a cane more often, per AP.
  • It was the first time he publicly revealed the existence of the letter.

What they're saying: "I have already signed my resignation. It was when Tarcisio Bertone was Secretary of State. I signed the resignation and told him: 'In case of a health impediment or whatever, here is my resignation. You have it,'" the pope told ABC according to a translation by Vatican News.

  • "I don't know who Cardinal Bertone gave it to, but I gave it to him when he was Secretary of State," he added.
  • The ABC journalists asked Francis if he wished to reveal the existence of the letter, and he said, "That's why I'm telling you."
  • "Now maybe someone will go and ask Cardinal Bertone to 'give me that letter,'" he said jokingly.

What's next: Pope Francis will give the Urbi et Orbi blessing from the Central Loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica on Christmas at noon local time (6am ET), per Vatican News.

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