Pope Francis praises the “humility” of the 13th pontiff who resigned from office | Pope Francis

Pope Francis, who has raised the possibility of retiring due to declining health, has praised the humility of a 13th-century pontiff who was one of the few in history to step down rather than to reign for life.

News of the Roman Catholic church leader’s visit to L’Aquila in the central Apennine mountains had fueled speculation that a resignation could be announced after 20 new cardinals were enthroned over the weekend.

The city was largely destroyed by a 2009 earthquake that killed 305 people and is still being rebuilt. It is the burial place of Celestine V, who resigned as pope in 1294 after just five months to resume his life as a hermit.

In his homily during a Mass in front of thousands in a town square, Francis noted that in the Divine Comedy, Dante had ridiculed Celestine for his cowardice in abdicating his papal role, calling the decision a “Great Refusal”. .

Francis, who suffers from a painful knee problem and sciatica, arrived at the town’s basilica to pray at Celestine’s tomb in a wheelchair and was helped to stand by aides. He said that by giving up power, Celestine had shown the strength of humility.

“In the eyes of men, the humble are seen as weak and losers, but in reality they are the real winners because they are the only ones who fully trust the Lord and know his will,” the pope said, 85 years old. said.

“Humility is not about devaluing ourselves, but rather about that healthy realism that makes us recognize our potential and also our misery,” Francis said. He hailed Celestine’s courage because “no logic of power could imprison him or direct him”.

Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, who in 2013 became the first pontiff in about 600 years to step down voluntarily, visited L’Aquila four years before stepping down. In the past, Francis has also praised Benedict’s courage.

Francis dismissed rumors that he himself was planning to resign soon, but also insisted that resignation must be an acceptable option for pontiffs who feel they can no longer adequately lead more than 1, 3 billion Catholics in the world.

He described how the helicopter that took him to L’Aquila on Sunday had to circle over the city in heavy fog before finally finding space, saying it showed how people should take advantage of an “opening” when it arises.

Sixteen of the cardinals enthroned on Saturday would be eligible for the conclave of those who would be called upon to choose Francis’s successor – who, according to Vatican rules, must be under 80 at the time of the vote – if he resigns.

The new cardinals come from all corners of the globe, including Brazil, Nigeria, Singapore and Timor-Leste.

The inductions mean that Francis has chosen 83 of the 132 qualified cardinals to elect a new pope, nearly two-thirds of the total and precisely the percentage needed for any proposed name to be adopted.

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