In an interview on Sunday, Pope Francis disclosed for the first time that he had submitted a letter of resignation nearly ten years prior in the event that ill health prevented him from performing his duties.
Francis, who turned 86 on Saturday, has already stated that if health issues prevent him from performing his duties, he will resign as pope.
Before the cardinal’s retirement in 2013, the pontiff claimed in the Spanish daily ABC that he had signed his letter of resignation and given it to Tarcisio Bertone, the secretary of state for the Vatican.
“I signed the resignation and I told him, ‘In case of medical impediment or whatever, here’s my resignation. You have it’,” The pope remarked.
When asked if he wanted that information to be known, Francis responded, “That’s why I’m telling you.”
He continued by saying he was unaware of Bertone’s following actions about the letter.
Francis’s inability to walk due to a knee issue that cannot be treated has made him dependent on a wheelchair in recent months.
The pope has had to postpone or reduce activities on numerous occasions in the previous year due to pain, and he acknowledged the need to slow down in an interview in July.
“I think that at my age and with this limitation, I have to save myself a little bit to be able to serve the Church. Or, alternatively, to think about the possibility of stepping aside,” he said.
In 2013, Benedict XVI, Francis‘ predecessor, resigned due to deteriorating health. He now leads a peaceful life in Vatican City.