Pope’s resignation ‘a cheap soap opera’


A papal advisor has dismissed media rumours of the pope’s likely resignation as nothing more than “a cheap soap opera”.

According to Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, who advises the pope within the Council of Cardinals, news reports suggesting Pope Francis’ physical decline will soon lead to a new conclave are “fake news”.

The rumours are being perpetrated by outlets located primarily in the United States where Francis faces “strong opposition”.

The pope has never thought about resigning, Maradiaga says.

Numerous articles published recently in major news outlets have attempted to draw conclusions from a conflagration of scheduled events in August.

These include cardinals from across the globe convening at the Vatican where Francis will make 21 new cardinals. They will also discuss the new apostolic constitution “Praedicate Evangelium” or “Preach the Gospel”.

Much has been made of the unusual timing of these events in August instead of September. Speculation includes Francis may be hurrying to cement his legacy. His cardinal appointments are assumed to be a sign that he is paving the way toward his successor.

That’s just not right, Maradiaga says.

The consistory “is proof that the pope is moving forward, he is not going to resign, nor is he sick”.

While it is true Francis has had various ills – including sciatica and knee pain which have recently led him to cancel events that put a strain on his legs and eventually forced him to use a wheelchair – resignation is not on his horizon.

The summit of cardinals will be an opportunity to address “Francis’ great reform,” and the pope “is perfectly fine” despite his knee pain and “will continue to govern the church,” says Maradiaga.

So why the rumours?

It could be a case of one and one equaling five. First, the August changes; then the wheelchair and a few cancellations.

Then the pope has a packed schedule for July including trips to South Sudan, the Congo and another to Canada – but – no general audiences and prayer services.

Doctors recommend surgery. Francis says “I’d resign rather than undergo surgery.”

Then – the big rumour reason: Francis’s decision to visit the Basilica of Collemaggio where Pope Celestine V, who retired from the pontificate after curial opposition, is buried.

Pope Benedict XVI visited the site in 2009 and laid his pallium, a liturgical vestment symbolising papal authority, before the tomb. Four years later, he resigned.

Maradiaga says reading Francis’ visit to the basilica as a sign of his imminent resignation constitutes a “cheap soap opera”. The trip to Aquila had been planned for a long time, he says.

In his view, Francis’s critics are spreading the rumours about his resignation.

At present for instance, he is faced with a “sit-down strike” by members of the Curia who oppose his reforms. That this is the case is clear: so far, the apostolic constitution has not yet been translated into any language other than Italian.


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