Pope: ‘No doubt’ Pope will resign after Christmas as Francis vowed to ‘follow Benedict’ | World | News

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The 83-year-old became head of the Catholic Church following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI – a controversial move and the first of its kind in more than 500 years. However, a source close to Pope Francis claimed he would only serve for seven years, stating he would follow in the footsteps of his predecessor. Austen Ivereigh is the former Director for Public Affairs of the previous Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and continues to work closely with the Vatican.

He said: “I don’t think there’s ever been any doubt that he will resign in 2020.

“He made clear from the beginning that he regarded Pope Benedict’s (XVI) act as a prophetic act of great modesty and he would have absolutely no problem in doing the same.

“What was interesting was he said to Mexican television in 2014 that he believed that he would have a short papacy of about five years.

“What I’m hearing now from people close to him is that he’s going to need seven years to achieve his five-year plan and that, of course, would mean staying on until 2020.”

If Mr Ivereigh is correct, it suggests Francis could resign after Christmas so as to avoid letting his papacy run into 2021.

Speaking in a lengthy television interview with the Mexican programme ‘Noticieros Televisa,’ the Pontiff responded to a question from journalist Valentina Alazraki about the length of his papacy.

He said: “I have the feeling that my pontificate will be brief.

”Four or five years. I do not know, or two, three. Well, two have already passed.

“It’s like a little vague feeling, but I have the feeling that the Lord puts me [here] for a brief thing and not more.”

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Francis will mark the occasion with the Vatican’s traditional Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve but will begin the liturgy at 7:30pm local time so that the few people invited to attend can get home in time to observe Italy’s 10pm curfew.

And the Pope’s Christmas blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world) will be given, as usual, at noon on Christmas Day from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica.

Therefore, he would be left with a window of less than a week if Mr Ivereigh’s prediction is anything to go by.

In their announcement of his festive plans, the Pope’s next event does not fall until December 31, 2020, which is an address from St Peter’s Basilica to “thank God for the past year”.

However, the writer also said the Pope’s comments should not be taken as fact.

He added in 2013: “He knows he is in the hands of God and so none of this is predictable.

“You can look at it two ways, I mean politically you could say it is quite clever because he’s also signalling to those people who do want to see a change in the church, that there isn’t much time.

“He’s putting salt on the tail of everyone saying ‘we need to get this done,’ so I think you can take (his plan) both ways.

“Some of his opponents are waiting for him to go and they will be encouraged by this.

“At the age of 79, we are talking here about him stepping down in his Eighties, in the year 2020, there aren’t many men, frankly, who are capable physically, let alone mentally, of leading a massive institution with all the demands that the papacy brings.”





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