Pope Francis has fueled speculation that he may intend to resign after a trip was postponed and an unusual meeting convened. Exhausted by pain in his knee, the Pope has recently been forced to appear in a wheelchair, while last week he postponed a trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan scheduled for July.
At the same time, according to the article, the Pope announced an unusual decision that has to do with the holding of a church council in August, through which new cardinals will emerge. And all this at a time when August is a holiday month for the Vatican. In fact, the head of the Roman Catholic Church arranged meetings to ensure that his reforms would remain intact.
The extraordinary ecclesiastical council is to be held on August 27 at the headquarters of the Catholic Church. Through this process, 21 new cardinals will emerge. 16 of them will be under 80 years old and are therefore able to elect Pope Francis’ successor in a future conclave.
Since taking office in 2013, he has named 83 cardinals in an effort to shape the future of the Catholic Church, in part to address Europe’s historically dominant influence and make it reflect its own values. In fact, in statements in 2014, just one year after his election as Benedict’s successor, Francis himself told reporters that if his health prevented him from serving as pope, he would also consider resigning. “He (Benedict) opened a door for resigned popes,” he had said at the time.
On August 28, the Pope will pay a visit to L’Aquila where the tomb of Celestine V – the first pope who resigned from the papacy, in the 13th century (he had remained in office for five months) is located. He will then join the cardinals of the world – many of whom are meeting their peers for the first time – in a two-day meeting and debate on the reform of the Roman Curia, which Francis announced in March with the unveiling of a new constitution.
The revival of the Roman Curia by Francis seeks to move the Church back to its pastoral roots, allowing lay Catholic Fathers to lead sections of the Vatican and creating a section dedicated to philanthropy, among other reforms.
The Pope’s moves have sparked speculation about his future plans, including his resignation. However, people who know what is happening behind closed doors in the Vatican do not believe that Francis is still on the verge of handing over the “papal keys”. A source told AFP that “in the Pope’s circle, the majority do not really believe in the possibility of resignation.”
Pope Francis and eschatology
The change in the figure of the Pope is global news in all respects, but it worries us most of all in terms of eschatology.
One must remember Malachy’s warning, an Irish saint’s eerie prophecy that Pope Francis will be the last Pontiff. In a series of 112 cryptic Latin phrases, the Irish saint predicted there would be only one more pope after Benedict, and during his reign comes the end of the world. So Francis could be the last:
“In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Peter the Roman, who will feed his flock amid many tribulations, after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people. The End.”
Although the official Vatican has found many parallels between Pope Francis and the last Pope named Peter, these parallels are not very convincing and there is an opinion that Benedict XVI is still the Pope, since abdication is not exactly what Malachi wrote about. In this case, after Francis, a certain Peter must come, under whom the prophecy will be fulfilled.
In this light, the arrival of a man named Peter to the Holy See also promises some epic geological disasters.