Pope Francis on Wednesday, at the end of his weekly general audience, in front of a nativity scene in the Paul VI Hall. in the Vatican
Francis has decreed that if he becomes incapacitated, someone else should take over the leadership of the Catholic Church. No pope before him has said that publicly.
Pope Francis has revealed that he has signed a conditional declaration of resignation if he becomes incapacitated. In an interview with the Spanish newspaper ABC published on Sunday morning, the pope said he had signed a document and given it to then-Cardinal Secretary of State Tacisio Bertone. Bertone held this office until October 15, 2013.
Pope Francis said he believed Bertone passed the document on to his successor, Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin. He believes that even Pope Pius XII. (1939-1958) and Paul VI. (1963-1978) had signed conditional declarations of resignation. There had always been speculation about this; Francis is the first pope to take this step publicly.
In the interview, however, Francis did not explain which authority must determine the incapacity – for example in the case of mental confusion or a coma – and announce the resignation of the pope. He only spoke of the fact that it was “a prevention due to medical circumstances or whatever”. With these words he handed over the declaration to Bertone.
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