Rumours has it that 85 year old Pope Francis may be planning to retire. Pope Francis stated that he would visit the central Italian city of L’Aquila for a feast in August. Last week, it was reported that the Pope announced a consistory to create 21 new cardinals, scheduled for 27 August.
Sixteen of those cardinals are under age 80 and eligible to cast a vote in a council set up to elect Francis’ successor. Once added to the ranks of princes of the church, Francis will have stacked the College of Cardinals with 83 of the 132 voting-age cardinals.
In announcing the 27 August consistory, Francis also mentioned he would host two days of talks the following week to brief the cardinals about his recent apostolic constitution reforming the Vatican bureaucracy. That document, which goes into effect Sunday, allows women to head Vatican offices, imposes term limits on priestly Vatican employees and positions the Holy See as an institution at the service of local churches, rather than vice versa.
Pope Francis, is the same age as Benedict was when he retired. Francis has suffered from sciatica for several years, a nerve pain that affects the lower back and legs. He cancelled numerous public appearances as a result of the condition in 2021. He underwent surgery in the summer of 2021 caused by diverticulitis, inflammation of the diverticula, small bulging pouches that can form in the colon. One side of his colon was removed, as per Catholic News Agency.
More recently, Francis has been facing more and more trouble getting around. Walking with strained ligaments in his right knee that have made walking painful and difficult, he spent the last month in a wheelchair. The Pope also told friends he doesn’t want to undergo surgery, reportedly because of his reaction to anesthesia last July when he had 33 centimeters (13 inches) of his large intestine removed.