On the plane back from Korea Pope Francis spoke of his struggles to keep up with the pace of the papacy and suggested that he may only be in office for another two or three years. The Daily Telegraph reporting here:
When asked how he was coping with his huge popularity, the Pontiff replied: “I try to think of my sins, my mistakes, so as not to think that I am somebody. Because I know this will last a short time, two or three years, and then to the house of the Father.”
He reminded the reporters of his age and spoke of his admiration for Pope Benedict’s decision to retire, and indicated that if death did not take him that he might do the same.
Let us think about what he [Benedict] said, I have got old, I do not have the strength. It was a beautiful gesture of nobility, of humility and courage.
But if one thinks that 70 years ago emeritus bishops also were an exception. They did not exist, but today emeritus bishops are an institution.
I think that the emeritus pope is already an institution because our life gets longer and at a certain age there isn’t the capacity to govern well because the body gets tired, and maybe one’s health is good but there isn’t the capacity to carry forward all the problems of a government like that of the church. I think that Pope Benedict made this gesture of emeritus popes…I would do the same! I would do the same. I would pray, but I would do the same.
If he reigns for another three years (and Benedict survives) we could be in the situation of having three living popes.
Was it wise for the pope to speak so soon of his departure?
Already speculation is growing about the next conclave.
If the papacy is a short one will the reforms Francis is trying to effect take root, or would his departure allow them to be swept away by the long, slow intransigence of Vatican torpor?
Could there be a papal election within the next five years?
If so, who is in the running?
By own gut feeling is that this will be a short papacy followed by the election of a younger pope from Africa or Asia.