Pope Francis signals again he may ‘step down’ from being pope
VATICAN, May 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis signaled yet again this week the possibility that he may resign from being pope. He asked morning Mass attendees on Tuesday to pray for priests, bishops, and the pope who, he said, must learn “when it’s time to take his leave and step down.”
Francis said he hopes that all pastors have the grace to know when to step down, and that when they do exit their post, they should not “leave halfway,” as reported by Vatican News.
This is one of many times since his election in 2013 that Pope Francis has spoken about stepping down from his post as Vicar of Christ on earth.
In 2014, he suggested that he would entertain the possibility of resigning if his health failed him, because he would not have the “capacity to govern well.” He suggested he would retire like Pope Benedict did if he felt that he could not “go on.”
Again in 2014 Francis said Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation was a “beautiful gesture of nobility, of humility and courage,” adding that it “cleared a path for later popes to do the same.” Francis also said Benedict’s stepping down “should not be considered an exception, but an institution.”
Then, in 2015, Pope Francis said that the Church should not have “leaders for life” and that there “should be a time limit to positions (in the Church).”
In the five years that he has been pope, Francis has allowed the teachings of heretics to go unchecked while he has refused to answer questions about ambiguities in his own teachings. Last year group of clergy and lay scholars from around the world issued a formal “filial correction” of the pope, accusing him of propagating heresies concerning marriage, the moral life, and reception of the sacraments. Earlier this month, Dutch Cardinal Willem Eijk raised the question that Pope Francis may be part of the Church’s “final trial” before the second coming of Christ.
In his homily this week at the Santa Marta papal residence in the Vatican, the Pope said that St. Paul was “compelled by the Holy Spirit” to leave Ephesus and go to Jerusalem, he said, and this “shows us the pathway for every bishop when it’s time to take his leave and step down.”
“When I read this, I think about myself,” Francis said, “because I am a bishop and I must take my leave and step down.”
Francis said as well that all bishops should trust the Holy Spirit in knowing when it’s time for them to step down. “I am thinking of all bishops,” Francis said. “May the Lord grant all of us the grace to be able to take our leave and step down in this way (as St. Paul did), with that spirit, with that strength, with that love for Jesus Christ and this faith in the Holy Spirit.”
“All pastors must take our leave,” he stated. “There comes a moment where the Lord tells us: go somewhere else, go there, go this way, come to me. And one of the steps a pastor must do is to prepare himself to take good leave, not to leave halfway."
Since Benedict relinquished his office there has been significant speculation about whether there was more behind his resignation than just frail health, including possible pressure from factions within the Church lobbying for a more progressive pope. And questions have continually surfaced over governance and authority in the Church with two concurrent living popes.