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Pope Francis Plans to Remain Pope ‘For As Long As God Allows It,’ Bishops Say

Rumors of Pope Francis’ resignation have increased after the Vatican announced the cancellation of his planned July papal visit to Congo and South Sudan, citing knee pain. It’s unclear whether the pope will make his expected journey to Canada later next month.

Pope Francis began using a wheelchair in May, not long after the Vatican stated he was undergoing therapeutic injections aimed at lessening the pain in his right leg and knee. The pope has struggled for most of his adult life with sciatica, which has worsened with age.

In July 2021, Francis was taken to the Roman hospital Gemelli for surgery and was kept under observation for 11 days.

Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, shook the Catholic world and beyond when he announced his resignation as pope in 2013. In August, Francis will visit the Tomb of Celestine V, known for having resigned as pope in 1294, in the Italian town of Aquila. Four years before Benedict announced his retirement, he visited the same tomb.

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This article originally appeared on ReligionNews.com.

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Claire Giangravé is an author at Religion News Service.