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Pope Francis: I Could Quit Like Benedict or Even Die by 2017

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Pope Francis suggested on Monday that he might one day resign the papacy – which would make him the second consecutive pontiff to do so after an almost 600-year gap. The pope said that his predecessor Benedict XVI had opened the door for papal resignations with his decision to stand down last year, the first example since Pope Gregory XII in 1415. “Some theologians may say this is not right, but I think this way,” he said in a lighthearted exchange with reporters returning to Rome from a trip to South Korea. “Let us think about what [Benedict XVI] said, ‘I have got old, I do not have the strength.’ It was a beautiful gesture of nobility, of humility and courage.”

He added: "But you could say to me, if you at some time felt you could not go forward, I would do the same." Asked about his immense popularity, the 77-year-old joked that he would probably die soon so should not get too proud: “I know this will last a short time, two or three years, and then to the house of the Father.” Pope Francis also said he had some nerve problems that he treated with a South American tea-like drink called Mate, and that he had not taken a vacation away from home since 1975.

In-Depth

- Anne Thompson, Clare Duffy and Alexander Smith