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Francis to Follow Benedict, Predicts Short Papacy

Pope Francis says he expects to serve only a short period and plans to follow his predecessor’s example of retiring rather than waiting to die in office.

Reuters (“Pope, on anniversary, says believes he will have short pontificate“):

Pope Francis said in an interview published on Friday he believes his pontificate will be short and that he would be ready to resign like his predecessor rather than ruling for life.

In the long interview with Mexican broadcaster Televisa, released on the second anniversary of his surprise election, Francis also said he “did not mind” being pope but would like to be able to go out in Rome unrecognized for a pizza.

“I have the 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,” he said, according to a Vatican translation from Spanish.

“I feel that the Lord has placed me here for a short time,” the Argentine-born pontiff said.

Francis, apparently in good health at 78, said “I share the idea of what Benedict did.” In 2013, former Pope Benedict became the first head of the Roman Catholic Church in 600 years to resign instead of ruling until he died.

“In general, I think what Benedict so courageously did was to open the door to the popes emeritus. Benedict should not be considered an exception, but an institution,” Francis said.

However, he said he did not like the idea of an automatic retirement age for popes, such as at age 80.

I don’t have a dog in the fight but think that’s a sound approach. The notion that the CEO of a massive organization should be in place until his last breath is mindboggling. It’s shocking that it took centuries for logic to prevail.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. dmhlt says:

    Headline:

    Pope Resigns Papacy for Pepperoni Pizza

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  2. lounsbury says:

    Well… “The notion that the CEO of a massive organization should be in place until his last breath is mindboggling. It’s shocking that it took centuries for logic to prevail.” is not particularly shocking if you’re not an American and realize the idea of Pope = CEO would be rather anachronistic and downright bizarre for all but this past century.

    Pope as King, ah well, that’s the actual behavioural benchmark for lo these many centuries. And Kings dying in office is more or less standard.

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  3. James Joyner says:

    @lounsbury: Yes, that’s completely fair. But this is in fact the 21st Century and the Church is a mega-billion global operation. It doesn’t make sense to have a leader who’s incapacitated for months, possibly years, at a time. Granted, the Curia would just run the place but the pope is the visible symbol of the whole operation.

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  4. lounsbury says:

    Well yes mate – the change re the modern Catholic Church makes sense (to me, a non Christian), but your comment was “The notion that the CEO of a massive organization should be in place until his last breath is mindboggling. It’s shocking that it took centuries for logic to prevail.” This is … mindboggling American. Really.

    It’s not at all boggling. What is boggling is the idea it is boggling. It’s rather for me shocking this Pope is stepping up to a very recent phenomena (relative to the historical context).

    But in many ways your comment reveals the mental shift the Papacy is facing in its “high income” markets.

    (but again to note, my comment is not on the substance of the idea evoked, the CEO type change, which might well be good, but the idea that this did not occur before is boggling – it simply isn’t)

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  5. James Joyner says:

    @lounsbury: Granting that I’m non-religious and don’t care much one way or the other, I do understand both the history and the strong pull of tradition. While he’s in fact the CEO of a global concern, he has to give the illusion of being much more than that. The pope can’t go around changing things willy nilly or he’s not the pope anymore.

    That said, the Church does break with tradition. I’m actually rather shocked that they didn’t throw papal retirement in with all the other Vatican II reforms.

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