It seems like Pope Francis has opened the door for the possibility that he might resign one day, as Pope Benedict did in 2013. That resignation was a shock for everyone, including Cardinals and Bishops, who were caught by surprise. In a recent interview Pope Francis said, "I have a feeling that my pontificate will be brief-four or five years, even two or three. Two have already passed. It's a somewhat strange sensation. I feel the Lord has placed me here for a short time."
That's a fascinating statement. For one, it makes you think that Pope Francis had a premonition that his pontificate will be short. Though the Pope is a healthy 78 years old, he is obviously considering retiring at some point, before he dies. He said, "I share the idea of what Pope Benedict did."
It's amazing that Pope Francis has the stamina he does at 78 years old. As I mentioned in my last blog entry, he is very well liked and has great popularity (as most people realize). Who could possibly fill his shoes and connect as well with the people as he does? Who else can preach the importance of God's mercy, as convincingly as he does? He's the right Pope for this time.
And so it seems like Pope Benedict changed things by resigning. It seems likely that other Popes, when they feel they can no longer fulfill the role because of age or illness, or they lack the energy, will consider resigning. I think that's a good thing, it puts less stress on the Pontiffs of the future.