This story was from a few days ago. I meant to post it then but forgot…jopipe
The Pope has spoken publicly for the first time about his own death, suggesting that he only has two to three years to live and may retire early.
Pope Francis, 77, made the claims during a press conference on his return flight from a hectic, five-day visit to South Korea.
When asked how he was coping with his huge popularity, the Pontiff replied: “I try to think of my sins, my mistakes, so as not to think that I am somebody. Because I know this will last a short time, two or three years, and then to the house of the Father.”
He then made a chopping gesture with his hand and whistling noise.
If the Pope is proved right, it would bring the curtain down on a revolutionary papacy during which he has already shaken up – over the course of months since his election last year – Vatican institutions which have remained unchanged for centuries.
On the plane back from Korea, the Pope looked in good form and stood for an hour as he took questions from reporters, but he admitted he was struggling to keep up with his appointments, recalling how he cancelled a visit to a Rome hospital in June.
“The day I should have gone to the Gemelli (Hospital), up to 10 minutes before I was there, but I could not do it. It is true, they were seven very demanding days then, full of engagements. Now I have to be a little more prudent,” he said.
The hard working pope, who grew up in Buenos Aires and became archbishop there in 1998 before his election as pope, revealed his last holiday outside the city was in 1975, but he added that he was a dab hand at holidaying at home.
“I change rhythm. I sleep more, I read the things I like. I listen to music. That way I rest. In July and part of August I did that,” he said.
Pope Francis admitted that he had “some nerve problems”, which required treatment. “Must treat them well, these nerves, give them mate (an Argentine tea) every day,” he joked.
On Tuesday, bookmakers Paddy Power made Ghana’s Cardinal Peter Turkson 7/1 favourite to succeed the Pope, followed by Canada’s Cardinal Marc Ouellet at 8/1. England’s Cardinal Vincent Nicols stood at 20/1.
On the plane the Pope again supported the decision by his predecessor Pope Benedict to retire – the first pope to do so in 600 years – and suggested he might do the same.
“Let us think about what he said,” the Pope said of Benedict. “I have got old, I do not have the strength. It was a beautiful gesture of nobility, of humility and courage.”
The Pope pointed out that 70 years ago, bishops rarely retired. “They did not exist, but today emeritus bishops are an institution,” he said.
“I think that the emeritus pope is already an institution because our life gets longer and at a certain age there isn’t the capacity to govern well because the body gets tired, and maybe one’s health is good but there isn’t the capacity to carry forward all the problems of a government like that of the Church,” he said.
“I would do the same,” he added. “I would pray, but I would do the same. He (Benedict) opened a door that is institutional, not exceptional.”
Despite his talk of death and retirement, the Pope was also keen to lay out plans for future foreign trips, suggesting he still has plenty of energy.
After suggesting that the UN should get involved in halting the advance of the Islamic militants in Iraq, the Pope said he was willing to visit northern Iraq, even though “at the moment it is not the best thing to do”.
He said he was aiming to visit Philadelphia next year, had been invited by Barack Obama to the US Congress and by the secretary general of the United Nations to visit the UN in New York.
“So maybe the three cities together,” he said. “Then there’s Mexico. The Mexicans want me to go to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, so we could take advantage of that too, but it’s not certain.”
He was also mulling a quick trip to Spain, he said.
Following trips to Brazil, the Holy Land and South Korea, the Vatican has confirmed Francis will visit Albania in September and Sri Lanka and the Philippines in January.