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Pope Francis underlines that papacy is a lifetime post

Pope Francis underlines that papacy is a lifetime post
FILE - Pope Francis is offered flowers during his weekly general audience in the Pope Paul VI   -  
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Vatican city

Pope Francis has made clear in comments published Thursday by a Jesuit journal that he believes being pope is a lifetime position and that Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation was an exception.

“I for the moment do not have that on my agenda," Francis told Civita Cattolica, in the clearest statement he has made on the issue.

The pope also said the resignation letter he wrote two months after his elections was precautionary.

“I did it in case I had some health problem that would prevent me from exercising my ministry and I am not fully conscious and able to resign," the pope told Civita Cattolica. “However, this does not at all mean that resigning popes should become, let’s say, a ‘fashion,’ a normal thing."

He added that a papal ministry should be “ad vitam" — for life — adding “I see no reason why it should not be so."

The pope made the comments during his recent trip to Africa.

In previous remarks, Francis has hailed the decision of his predecessor, Pope Benedict, to resign because he felt due to advancing age he wouldn’t be best able to carry out his duties. Benedict died in January, nearly a decade after he resigned the papacy.

Francis, 86, had surgery in 2021 to repair a bowel narrowing and has been hobbled by knee pain that for months saw him use a wheelchair.