New reports today indicate Pope Francis, who has been celebrated by the pro-life community for his vocal opposition to abortion combined with a tender touch in support of pregnant women and the disabled, had a frank talk with reporters about his health and said he may not have long to live.
The leader of the Catholic Church spoke candidly about his health with reporters for the first time aboard the plane that carried him back to The Vatican from his visit to South Korea. On the plane during the interview, the Pope talked about his declining health and hinted that he may die in the next two to three years or retire early from his position as Pope Benedict XVI did before him.
‘I see it as the generosity of the people of God. I try to think of my sins, my mistakes, not to become proud. Because I know it will last only a short time,’ he said. Then, apparently light-heartedly, he added: ‘Two or three years and then I’ll be off to the Father’s House.’
While the Pope has not spoken publicly before about when he might die, a Vatican source said he had previously told those close to him that he thought he only had a few years left.
Although the Francis is 77, he has been the most vigorous Pope in years, his energy proving the key to his popularity. His frank admission may lead commentators to speculate as to whether he has any undisclosed health problems.
At the time of his elevation to the Papacy, reports emerged that Francis had a lung removed when he was a teenager in Argentina after suffering an infection. Dr William Schaffner, chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, said at the time: ‘Obviously, this was a success because here he is at age 76.
One of these neuroses, is that I’m too much of a homebody,’ he added, recalling that the last time he’d taken a holiday outside of his native Argentina was ‘with the Jesuit community in 1975’.
During his South Korean trip, Pope Francis visited a memorial in South Korea dedicated to remembering babies who have been victimized by abortions.
The abortion memorial, located at the Kkottongnae home for the sick about 120 miles from Seoul, is a field dotted with white crosses and statues of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus as a child. Francis paused briefly at the site, bowed his head and folded his hand in prayer.