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Pope Francis’ decision to cancel Africa trip fuels resignation rumors

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Pope Francis is using a wheelchair because of pain in his knee.

Pope Francis has fueled the rumor mill with a postponed Africa visit and the anxious timing of an upcoming meeting of cardinals. Speculation was renewed in late August by an announcement about his proposed visit to L’Aquila in central Italy – similar to other popes who have retired.

Speculation arose in early May, when the 85-year-old first appeared in public using a wheelchair due to pain in his knee.

The 85-year-old canceled her proposed trip to Africa in July due to forced wheelchair access.

“At the request of his doctors, and in order not to jeopardize the results of his ongoing therapy for his knee, the Holy Father is forced, with regret, to postpone his apostolic visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. South Sudan, planned from 2 to 7 July, will be determined later,” Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See Press Office, said in a recent statement.

Speculation gained momentum after Pope Benedict made the unusual decision on 27 August to host a concourse to create new cardinals, some of whom would be eligible to elect the pontiff’s successor.

“It’s so strange to have a concourse in August, there’s no reason he needs to call it three months in advance and then go to L’Aquila in the middle of it,” said Robert Mickens, Rome-based editor of the English-language edition of la croixA Catholic daily newspaper, was quoted as saying Guardian,

Most recently, in May, Pope Francis mocked his knee during a closed-door meeting with bishops: “Instead of operating, I will resign.”

In July, he is expected to travel to Canada and that schedule remains unchanged for now. According to the Vatican, he continues to receive injections into his knee and physical therapy.

In July 2021, Pope underwent intestinal surgery, which kept him in the hospital for 10 days.

What is the protocol when the Pope resigns?

If this happens, the cardinals will gather to name a successor. The College of Cardinals, which elects the next pope, is made up of the most senior officials of the Catholic Church.

Who was the last pope to resign?

Pope Francis’ predecessor Benedict XVI resigned in February 2013 over health concerns. He was the first pontiff to resign in nearly 600 years.

However, Vatican watchers say resignations are unlikely. Italian Vatican expert Marco Politi said rumors within the insular Roman Curia – the powerful governing body of the Catholic Church – are nothing new, and are often fueled by those interested.

“These rumors have been encouraged by opponents of the Pope who are only eager to let Francis go,” he told AFP.

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