Tired Pope Francis says he needs to pull back on travel or possibly retire

Pope Francis acknowledged on Saturday that he can no longer travel as he used to because of his torn knee ligaments, he said his week-long Canadian pilgrimage was “a bit of a test” that showed he has to slow down and maybe one day retire.

On his journey home from northern Nunavut, Francis, 85, told reporters that he had not considered resigning, saying “the door is open” and that there was nothing wrong with a pope resigning.

“It’s not strange. It’s not a disaster. You can change the Pope,” he said while seated in an airplane wheelchair during a 45-minute press conference.

Francis said that while he hadn’t considered retiring until now, he felt he had to at least slow down.

Pope Francis Says He Must Retire When Traveling, Admits
Pope Francis looks on during a news conference aboard the papal plane on its return flight after visiting Canada July 29, 2022.


“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 appeared in good spirits and energetic, despite a long day’s journey to the edge of the Arctic on Friday to once again apologize to indigenous people for the injustices they suffered in Canada’s church 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’ll try to keep traveling and being close to people because I think it’s a kind of service and closeness. But I can’t say more than that,” he said on Saturday.

In other comments aboard the papal plane, Francis agreed with the attempt eliminate indigenous culture in Canada by a Church-run boarding school system amounted to cultural “genocide.”

Francis said he didn’t use the term during his Canada trip because it didn’t occur to him. Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission found in 2015 that the forced evictions of Indigenous children from their homes and placed in church boarding schools to integrate them into Christian Canadian communities constituted “cultural genocide.”

“It’s true I didn’t use the word because it didn’t come to mind, but I was describing genocide, wasn’t I?” said Franz. “I apologized, I asked forgiveness for this work that was genocide.”

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