Pope Dismisses Resignation Rumors As ‘Court Gossip’


Pope Francis dismissed speculation about his poor health and plans to resign in the near future, according to an interview with Reuters published Monday, hinting at possible trips to Moscow and Kyiv amid criticism the Vatican has not done enough to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Pope Francis dismissed rumors he’s set to retire.

AFP via Getty Images

Key Facts

Pope Francis said he has no plans to resign soon and dismissed speculation about his poor health as “court gossip,” according to Reuters.

Reports that doctors found cancer during colon surgery, a knee problem that scuppered a trip to Africa and an unusual conjunction of events planned for summer—all of which fueled rumors the pontiff was planning to resign imminently—are all “coincidences,” he explained.

He joked that if doctors had found cancer they didn’t tell him “anything” and said he is “slowly” recovering from a knee fracture, which caused him to cancel a planned trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

Francis said he is on track to visit Canada later this month and hopes to travel to Kyiv and Moscow after “to try to help in some way.”

No pope has ever visited Moscow and papal overtures during the war have not panned out.

Francis suggested something has changed and a trip to Russia is “now possible.”

Crucial Quote

Pope Francis said he could not comment on the legality of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in June, which harshly curtailed the right to abortion across the U.S., though he condemned abortion and compared it to “hiring a hit man.” The Catholic Church teaches that life begins at conception and rejects abortion as murder. “I ask: Is it legitimate, is it right, to eliminate a human life to resolve a problem,” Francis said.


The pope appeared to criticize Catholic clerics who deny politicians—such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)—holy communion. “When the Church loses its pastoral nature, when a bishop loses his pastoral nature, it causes a political problem,” the pope said. He would not comment further on the matter.

Key Background

The pope, while denouncing violence in the region, has been criticized for his slow and tepid response to the war in Ukraine. When he has spoken out, he has rarely criticized Russia or President Vladimir Putin explicitly and has repeatedly sought a meeting with the Russian leader. In June, the pontiff condemned the “cruelty” of Russian troops but insisted the matter was not clear cut and suggested Moscow may have been provoked by NATO expansion.

Further Reading

Pope Francis denies he is planning to resign soon (Reuters)

The Twilight of Pope Francis (Politico)

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