Above: Pope Francis on May 14, 2022.
Editor’s note: we ask our readers to pray for our Holy Father and his health. It is the duty of every Catholic to love and pray for the Roman Pontiff. Let us continue the pious custom of including Pope Francis in every Rosary every day.
On Sunday, while Catholics commemorated Pentecost, a familiar rumor was circulating among the media: the possible resignation of Pope Francis. The headline from the Associated Press read: “Pope Francis fuels new speculation on future of pontificate.”
The article noted that the “rumors gained steam last week when Francis announced a consistory to create 21 new cardinals scheduled for August 27th. Sixteen of those cardinals are under age 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave to elect Francis’ successor.”
That alone, however, was not sufficient evidence for recent speculation. The foundation for the latest rumor lies in a combination of factors that include the pontiff’s declining health, and a visit to the tomb of Pope Celestine V slated to take place during the August Consistory. The visit to the tomb bears significance as Celestine V has been referred to as the “patron saint of papal resignations.”
If I had a dime for every occasion in which we’ve seen this rumor, I could retire. My thoughts on this matter are subsequently brief.
Granted, Pope Francis has given the faithful some clues concerning how he regards his papacy and the notion of retirement. In a 2014 interview that he gave to a Mexican television network, Bergoglio indicated that he believed his time as Pope would be short. “I have the feeling that my pontificate will be brief. Four or five years. I don’t know, or two, three. Well, two have already passed,” the pontiff said. “It’s like a little vague feeling, but I have the feeling that the Lord puts me [here] for a brief thing and no more.”
The Lord, dear Holy Father? Or the St. Gallen Mafia?
In December 2020, the idea of the Pope’s imminent resignation came under fire when a Bergoglian biographer was scrutinized for previous predictions.
Last August, Catholic News Agency published a piece by Andrea Gagliarducci entitled, “Analysis: What’s behind rumors that Pope Francis will resign?” I’ll be honest, when it comes to the Bergoglio Pontificate, I generally don’t take Catholic News Agency very seriously. Often, their coverage of Pope Francis consists of nothing more than biased, sugar-coated fawning by Courtney Mares, or as I like to call her, George Weigel, Jr. However, the analysis by Gagliarducci was a well-rounded commentary worth revisiting.
Considering recent events, I will focus on a few paragraphs of the analysis in particular:
According to an Argentine priest who has known Pope Francis since his days in Buenos Aires, ‘there is only one reason why Pope Francis would resign: so that he can influence the process to choose his successor.’
It is a somewhat harsh reading of Pope Francis’ personality. However, if the supposedly new rules establish that the Pope Emeritus falls in the ranks of the cardinals, his presence in the pre-conclave general congregations could certainly influence the choice of his fellow cardinals.
How much of all this is gossip, and how much is true? First, it is true that the Pope’s health has suffered a severe blow and that Pope Francis himself has begun to speed up some decisions in case something happens.
I’ll start with the final paragraph and work my way back to the beginning of the excerpt.
One thing that is plainer than a Quaker on his day off is that Francis has been making some big decisions at a rather fast pace. Whether fast-paced decisions are the result of failing health, or a looming resignation remains to be seen.
For what it’s worth (and I admit it’s not worth much), I have speculated for quite some time now that Pope Francis is suffering from some sort of gastrointestinal illness that is likely terminal. Photos have suggested that one side of his torso seems to be more protruding than the other, leading me to believe that since July 2021, he has been wearing a colostomy bag. While his knees are likely problematic, I speculate that his confinement to a wheelchair is more likely the result of the pain from whatever ailment is affecting his GI system.
However, with concern to papal terminal illness and resignations, I think it’s important to bear in mind some recent historic context.
Beginning on Christmas Eve in 1999, and concluding on New Year’s Day in 2000, Pope John Paul II opened the Holy Door at all four Roman Basilicas for the Great Jubilee of 2000. The Church witnessed a pope far weaker and feebler than Francis “open wide the doors to Christ.” For the next four years, we heard the same rumor repeatedly: “This is the year that Pope John Paul II will enter into eternal life.”
A decade or so later in 2009, Pope Benedict XVI visited L’Aquila and prayed at Pope Celestine’s tomb, leaving his pallium stole on it. In hindsight, this was a significant gesture, yet most were taken by surprise 4 years later when he announced his resignation.
It’s also worth taking into consideration that regarding the latest rumors, we’re dealing with Francis, who is perhaps one of the most obtuse popes in history. Just when we think he’s predictable, he sucker punches us.
Again, however, we must look at the opposite side of this argument.
More than previous pontificates, it seems that the Bergoglio regime does not value confidentiality. It’s as though leaks are meant to provide us with a preview of the latest dumpster fire slated to be ignited.
This brings me to the first and second paragraphs of the Gagliarducci excerpt.
As I have mentioned more than once at my blog, there are a total of 117 cardinal electors in the College of Cardinals, 67 of whom were created by Pope Francis in previous consistories. One of the electors will have reached the age of 80 before the next consistory on August 27th. Thus, on that date, there will be 116 electors from previous consistories, plus the 16 new electors, bringing the total number of electors to 132. Pope Francis will have created 83 of the 132 electors.
It’s safe to say that whether he resigns or passes away, the deck is sufficiently stacked in favor of the infiltration movement. Personally, I don’t think Bergoglio would need to be alive to ensure that his successor is cut from the same fabric.
Based on the pattern of leaks that seem to precede his dumpster fires, we can safely deduce that Pope Francis is fond of optics – and a resignation would certainly permit for a host of optics. Just as the Peronism of Juan flows through Bergoglio’s veins, so too does the narcissism of Eva. His ego leads one to safely speculate that he would love nothing more than to be present and perhaps flex his influence during the pre-conclave general congregations. Frankly (double entendre), it wouldn’t even surprise me if he were to be seen on CNN offering commentary while the Cardinals were locked away in conclave.
In Sunday’s AP article, Christopher Bellitto, a church historian at Kean University in Union, New Jersey, suggested that the Holy Father is, “not going to have two former popes floating around.” Referring to Francis’ planned visit to L’Aquila.
“I don’t recall a lot of stories at the time saying that Benedict’s visit in 2009 made us think he was going to resign,” he said.
With no offense intended toward Mr. Bellitto, his last quote in a sense refutes his hypothesis.
Which further reinforces the argument that with the Bergoglio pontificate, speculation albeit entertaining, is generally pointless. Just the same, some people enjoy thrill rides and Francis has certainly managed to transform the Vatican into a Pachamama (amusement) park.
Most of us, however, are nauseous and ready for the rollercoaster ride to be over.
While an interregnum may give us a chance to catch our collective breath, I fear that the next ride may be just as dizzying.
Whether or not Pope Francis is at the helm, a clearly lavender biased College of Cardinals indicates that the Synod on Synodality will carry on. Furthermore, it’s clear that moral relativism, Modernism, and the relentless assault on sacred Tradition will continue through the next pontificate and perhaps beyond.
The battle cry to “resist Francis to his face” is proper. The balance of the College of Cardinals however raises the question: How many pontificates will we be forced to resist?
I fear that neither resignation nor repose will result in the retirement of papal resistance. The “Francis Effect” is a papal pandemic in its infancy. The guardians of Tradition should therefore be less concerned with how the current pontificate ends and instead be prepared for a long, arduous fight.
Photo credit: AP/Gregorio Borgia.