Pope discusses his health, his critics and the future of the papacy

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis says he has not considered issuing criteria to regulate the resignation of future popes and that some top-ranking bishops may continue as bishop as long as they Despite a wave of criticism from conservative cardinals and bishops regarding his papal preferences.

in your first interview Since the Dec. 31 death of retired Pope Benedict XVI, Francis has addressed his critics, his health and the next phase of his papacy, which marks its 10th anniversary in March without Benedict’s shadow in the background.

Francis’ remarks, delivered Tuesday at the Vatican hotel where he lives, came at a particularly difficult time as the pontiff navigates conservative opposition to his insistence on making the Catholic Church a more welcoming, inclusive place — criticism that has He attributed the equivalent. His puppy’s 10-year itch.

“You prefer not to be criticized for peace,” Francis told The Associated Press., “But I prefer that they do because it means there is freedom of speech.”

Some commentators believe that Francis may now be free to maneuver after Benedict’s death., Others suggest that any kind of ecclesiastical peace that might have reigned was gone and that Francis, now exposed to critics, played a role in keeping conservative Catholic fringes bereft of Benedict’s moderating influence at bay.

Francis acknowledged that the knives were out, but seemed almost optimistic about it.

Francis said of his critics, “I would attribute it not to Benedict, but to the wear and tear of 10 years of government.” He argued that his election was initially greeted with a sense of “surprise” about a South American pope. Of his critics, he said, “When they started seeing my flaws and didn’t like them,” he became restless.

“The only thing I ask is that they do it to my face because that’s how we all grow up, right?” she added.

Meanwhile, the pontiff said he was in good shape, that a minor bone fracture in his knee from the fall had healed without surgery and that he was ready to carry on with his agenda.

“I’m in good health. For my age, I’m normal,” said the 86-year-old pontiff, although he revealed that diverticulosis, or a bulge in the wall of his intestines, “had returned.” 33 centimeters (13 in) of intestine was removed because of what the Vatican said was inflammation that caused a narrowing of his colon.,

“I may die tomorrow, but it is under control. I am in good health,” he said with his characteristic sarcastic tone.

Since Benedict’s death, speculation has run high about Francis’ health and the future of his pontificate.whose 2013 resignation marked a turning point for the Catholic Church as he was the first pontiff to retire in six centuries.

Francis praised Benedict as an “old-fashioned gentleman” and said of his death: “I lost a father.”

“For me, that was a safeguard. In case of any doubt, I would ask for a car and go to the monastery to ask,” he said of his visits to Benedict’s retirement home for counsel. “I lost a good friend.”

Some cardinals and canon lawyers have said that the Vatican should issue norms to regulate future papal retirements to prevent some of the hiccups that occurred during Benedict’s unexpectedly long retirement, during which he was at the receiving end of some conservatives and traditionalists. who refused to recognize the legitimacy of Francis. ,

From the name Benedict chose (pope emeritus) to the (white) cassock he wore for his occasional public comments (on priestly celibacy and sexual abuse), these commentators said the norms should make it clear that only one should rule. gonna be the pope For the unity of the Church.

Francis said that it had not even crossed his mind to issue such a rule.

“I’m telling you the truth,” he said, adding that the Vatican needed more experience with papal retirement before “regulating or regulating” it.

Francis has said that Benedict “opened the door” for future resignations, and that he too would consider stepping down. He reiterated on Tuesday that if he resigns, he will be called emeritus bishop of Rome and will live in a residence for retired priests in the Diocese of Rome.

Francis said Benedict’s decision to live in a converted monastery in the Vatican Gardens was a “good intermediate solution”, but the future retired pope might want something different.

“He was still a ‘slave’ as a pope, no?” Francis said. “The vision of a pope, of a system. ‘slave’ in the good sense of the word: in this he was not entirely free, as he would have preferred to return to his Germany and continue his study of theology.”

By one reckoning, Benedict’s death removes the main obstacle to Francis resigning, as the prospect of two pensioner popes was never an option. But Francis said Benedict’s death had not changed his calculus. He said, ‘The thought of writing a will never crossed my mind.’

For his own immediate future, Francis emphasized his role as “Bishop of Rome” as opposed to pontiff and said of his plans: “Continue to be bishop, Bishop of Rome with all the bishops of the world.” ” He stated that he wanted to put to rest the concept of the papacy as a power player or papal “court”.

Francis also addressed the criticism of cardinals and bishops who have erupted publicly in the weeks following Benedict’s death, saying it is unpleasant – “like a rash that bothers you a little” – but that he wanted to wrap it up. Better to keep in Francis has been attacked for years by conservatives and conservatives, who object to his prioritization of social justice issues such as poverty, migration and the environment.

“If it isn’t, there will be a dictatorship of distance, as I call it, where the emperor is there and no one can tell him anything. No, let them speak because…criticism helps you grow and make things better.” helps.’

First salvo in latest wave of attacks It came from Benedict’s longtime secretary, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, who revealed the bad blood that had accumulated over the past 10 years in an all-out memoir published in the days following Benedict’s funeral.

In one of the most explosive sections, Ganswein revealed that Benedict learned by reading L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s daily newspaper, that Francis had overturned one of the former pope’s most important liturgical rulings and on celebrating the Old Latin Mass. was banned.

A few days later, the Vatican was rocked again by the death of another conservative stalwart, Cardinal George Pell, and revelations that Pell was the author of a devastating memo that had been circulated the previous year that Francis Pont Cert described as a “disaster” and Said “catastrophe”. ,

The memo, which was initially published under the pseudonym “Demos”, listed the problems at the Vatican under Francis, from its precarious finances to the pontiff’s preaching style, and what the future pope would do to fix them. Issued bullet points for this.

Francis acknowledged Pell’s criticism but still praised him for being his “right hand” on reforming Vatican finances as his first economy minister.

“Even if they say he criticized me, well, he has a right. Criticism is a human right,” Francis said. But he added: “He was a great man. Great.”

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