ON BOARD THE PAPAL PLANE – Pope Francis admitted on Saturday he can’t travel like he used to because of strained knee ligaments, saying his week-long Canadian pilgrimage was “a bit of a test” that showed he was slowing down and might have to retire one day.
On his journey home from northern Nunavut, Francis, 85, told reporters that he had no intention of resigning, saying “the door is open” and that there was nothing wrong with that a pope resigns.
“It’s not strange. It’s not a disaster. You can change the Pope,” he said during a 45-minute press conference in an airplane wheelchair.
Francis said that while he hadn’t considered retiring until now, he felt he had to at least slow down.
“I think at my age and with these limitations, I have to conserve (my energy) to be able to serve the church or, on the contrary, think about the possibility of stepping aside,” he said.
Francis was peppered with questions about the future of his pontificate after the first trip, which he used a wheelchair, a walker and a cane to get around, severely limiting his program and his ability to blend in with crowds.
Earlier this year he had torn the ligament in his right knee and continued laser and magnetic therapy forced him to cancel a trip to Africa scheduled for the first week of July.
The Canada trip was difficult and there were several moments when Francis was in significant pain getting in and out of chairs.
At the end of his six-day tour, he was in a good mood and full of energy despite a long day of travel the edge of the Arctic on Friday to once again apologize to indigenous people for the injustices they have suffered in Canada’s church-run boarding schools.
Francis ruled out surgery on his knee, saying it wouldn’t necessarily help, noting that “there are still traces” of the effects of more than six hours of anesthesia in July 2021 to remove 13 inches of his colon.
“I will try to keep traveling and being close to people because I think being close is a way of serving. But that’s all I can say,” he said on Saturday.
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/pope-says-ll-slow-retire-relying-wheelchair-walker-canada-trip-rcna40784 Pope says he will slow down or retire after relying on a wheelchair and walker during his Canada trip