Pope resigns rumors: Francis meets 200 cardinals

Rumors of the Pope’s resignation
Francis meets 200 cardinals

The Vatican says little about the reasons why Francis invited all 200 cardinals to Rome. The Extraordinary General Assembly fuels rumors about a possible resignation of the Pope. Officially, constitutional reform is the topic.

As is usually the case at a conclave, about 200 cardinals in the Vatican met Pope Francis at a general meeting. At the meeting, the head of the Catholic Church wants to discuss the new constitution of the Papal States called the “Fore Gospel” (Preaching the Gospel), which has been in force since the beginning of June. The Holy See provided some details before the two-day meeting. It is also limited to noon. The communication is limited to one sentence: “In the Vatican, in the presence of the Holy Father Francis, the cardinals are met for the new Apostolic Constitution and Preliminary Gospel.” The planned public event is a final Mass on Tuesday.

The 85-year-old pope wants to reform his church, and the new constitution is part of that plan. Among other things, he wants to open the powers of the Vatican so that ordinary people or women can also reach high positions. But for many, the Pope’s plans are not enough. In the morning next to St Peter’s Basilica, a group of women protested with red umbrellas, campaigning for more to say to women with phrases such as “Reformation means women” or “More than half the church.”

Cardinal gathering in mid-August is very unusual. With two more appointments just before the meeting, the Pope has sparked further rumors of a possible resignation. Vatican watchers currently consider such a move unlikely. However, the Pope’s poor health has fueled speculation for several months.

Two useful weekend appointments

Francis appointed 20 new cardinals on Saturday. On Sunday, he prayed at the tomb of the Pope, who was the first in the history of the Church to resign voluntarily. He flew by helicopter to the Italian city of L’Aquila, where he met the relatives of the victims of the deadly earthquake in 2009 and prayed at the tomb of Celestine V in the Basilica of Santa Maria di Colemaggio.

In 1294, Pope Celestine V was the first pope to voluntarily resign from office. Also Pope Benedict XVI. He prayed at this tomb a few years before his resignation in 2013. Benedict’s visit and deposit of his insignia of office at the tomb of Celestine V were later interpreted as a silent announcement of his resignation.

With the appointment of 20 new cardinals, Pope Francis has had at least a noticeable impact on the future of the Catholic Church. Sixteen of them were allowed to vote for a new head of the Catholic Church in a secret meeting, that is, a papal election, because they did not exceed the specified minimum age of 80 years.

(This article was first published on Monday, August 29, 2022.)


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