Pope: ‘I’m not considering resigning but would be ‘bishop emeritus of Rome’

In an autobiography hitting bookshelves on March 19, Pope Francis shares his childhood memories during Argentina’s dictatorship, thoughts on his ministry as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, and his belief that serving the most vulnerable is “what every man or woman of God should do.”

Mar 15, 2024

Pope Francis waves as he arrives at a weekly General Audience (Vatican Media)

VATICAN: The Italian newspaper “Corriere della Sera” releases several passages from Pope Francis’ autobiographical book entitled "Life. My Story in History," written with Vatican journalist Fabio Marchese Ragona, set to be released on March 19 by HarperCollins.

In the passages released on Thursday, the Pope clarified that were he to resign, he would not choose to be called “Pope Emeritus” but simply “Bishop Emeritus of Rome."

In that case, he would live in the Basilica of St. Mary Major “to return to being a confessor and bring communion to the sick.”

The Pope clarified this possible scenario in case of his resignation, which, however, he emphasized, "is a distant hypothesis" because there are no "so serious reasons" to consider this possibility, which he said he never considers, "despite moments of difficulty."

There are no "conditions for a resignation," according to Pope Francis, unless "a serious physical impediment" arose, in which case a "letter of resignation" deposited in the Secretariat of State signed by Bergoglio at the beginning of his pontificate would apply.

He added that the possibility remains remote, since the Pope "is in good health and, God willing, there are many projects still to be realized."

The generational genocide in Argentina
The book spans over 300 pages and covers all aspects of Pope Francis's life, from his relationship with his family, especially with his grandparents, their emigration to Argentina in 1929, a "little derailment" during his seminary period, and World War II with its dramatic atomic epilogue.

"The use of atomic energy for war purposes is a crime against humanity, our dignity, and any future possibility in our common home," said the Pope, posing the heavy question of how one can claim to be a "champion of peace and justice while building new weapons of war."

The pages traverse the history of the Argentine dictatorship, the deep connections that Jorge Mario Bergoglio had with those who did not survive it, his commitment to sheltering young people at risk during General Jorge Rafael Videla's regime, and the failed attempt to save his influential teacher, Esther.

What happened in Argentina "was a generational genocide," wrote the Pope, who also addressed accusations of being somehow complicit with the dictatorship, refuted by the evidence of his opposition to "those atrocities."

Pope Francis wrote about Esther, a "true communist," an atheist "but respectful" who "never attacked faith. She taught me so much about politics."

This memory provided the Pope an opportunity, once again, to repeat that "talking about the poor does not automatically make you a communist" since "the poor are the flag of the Gospel and are in Jesus' heart," and that "in Christian communities, property was shared: this is not communism, this is pure Christianity!"

Defense of human life
The book continued through the Pope’s staunch defense of human life, "from conception to death," where abortion "is murder," performed by "hired killers, hitmen!", calling the practice of surrogacy "inhumane."

The book also includes a chapter on soccer, Bergoglio's passion, writing about Maradona and his vow "to no longer watch TV."

The pages cover his time spent in Cordoba, leading to the Pope's reflection on mistakes "made because of my authoritarian attitude, to the extent of being accused of being ultraconservative. It was a period of purification. I was very closed in myself, a bit depressed."

Relationship with Pope Benedict XVI
The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the subsequent conclave, and his election as Pope, with the choice of the name Francis, are another chapter in the autobiography.

Pope Francis described his pain at seeing "the figure of the Pope Emeritus 'instrumentalized,' with ideological and political purposes by unscrupulous people," and the consequent "controversies" that "in ten years have not been lacking and have hurt both of us."

"Life. My Story in History" covers the period of the pandemic, recalls appeals about the wealth of cultures and differences of peoples inherent in the European Union. He expressed his hope that such an appeal will be heard by Hungarian Prime Minister Orban, "so that he understands that there is always so much need for unity," as well as from Brussels "which seems to want to standardize everything, which should respect Hungarian uniqueness."

In the book, Pope Francis touched on topics dear to him, such as the protection of creation, and addressed young people, asking them to "make noise," because "time is running out, we don't have much left to save the planet."

The Church that Pope Francis imagines is a "mother Church, which embraces and welcomes everyone, even those who feel wrong and who have been judged by us in the past," thinking of homosexuals or transsexuals "who seek the Lord and have instead been rejected or expelled."

The Pope repeated his yes to "blessings for irregular couples," because everyone is loved by God, "especially sinners. And if some brother bishops decide not to follow this path, it does not mean that this is the antechamber of a schism, because the doctrine of the Church is not questioned."

Homosexuality and civil unions
While homosexual marriage remains impossible, he said, this is not the case for civil unions, because "it is right that these people who live the gift of love can have legal coverage like everyone else."

As in other moments, Pope Francis's words are an encouragement to make people who are often marginalized within the Church feel at home, "especially those who have received baptism and are in all respects part of the people of God. And those who have not received baptism and wish to receive it, or who wish to act as godfathers or godmothers, please, let them be welcomed."

The Pope did not hide the wounds caused by those who believe he "is destroying the papacy."

Even if there is "always someone trying to hinder reform, who would like to remain stuck in the times of the Pope-king," he said, the fact remains that "the Vatican is the last absolute monarchy in Europe, and that often inside here, reasoning and court maneuvers are made, but these schemes must be definitively abandoned."--Vatican News

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