(NewsGlobal.com)- After months of rumors about his failing health, Pope Francis last week appeared to tamp down the talk that he was planning to resign.
During a meeting with over a dozen Brazilian Catholic bishops, the pope opened up about his health and discussed his plans for his papacy. According to the Vatican’s official news service, the pope told Archbishop Roque Paloschi that resigning “does not cross his mind.”
The pope reportedly told the bishops that he is facing many health challenges, but it was his wish to live the life God gave him until the end.
These private, off-hand remarks seem to dispel weeks of speculation that the 85-year-old Pope Francis was considering stepping down from the papacy.
In January, the pope was unable to descend the steps of the Vatican audience hall to greet pilgrims. Instead, a select group of pilgrims was brought up to the stage where he greeted them from his seat. At the time, the pope said he was suffering from knee problems that made walking and taking stairs painful.
By April the knee problems weren’t getting better and by May, Pope Francis began using a wheelchair in public.
Given his mobility issues, speculation grew that he may be considering stepping down. And when the pope called for the addition of 21 new cardinals, rumors that the pope was laying the groundwork for a possible conclave to elect a new pontiff began to swirl.
The suspicions only grew after the pope scheduled a trip to L’Aquila, Italy to visit the tomb of Celestine V, the hermit pope who resigned in 1294. Before he resigned, Pope Benedict XVI, Francis’ predecessor, also visited Celestine V’s tomb.
During Wednesday’s General Audience, the pope spoke about the effects of old age, elderly frailty, and helplessness, topics Pope Francis has revisited several times in recent years.
In his address, the pope told the faithful that it is in old age that Christians learn to accept help from others, even for the most basic tasks. He compared helplessness in old age to the serenity that comes from giving control of one’s life over to God.