Francis in front of the tomb of Pope Celestine, the pontiff who voluntarily resigned from his pontificate on 13 December 1294. AFP photo
The inevitable “catchphrase”, as they call it, of the resignation of the Argentine Pope, was strengthened when Jorge Bergoglio paid homage this morning at the tomb of Pope Celestinethe pontiff who voluntarily resigned from his pontificate on 13 December 1294.
Francis never mentioned the topic of his resignation during the hours spent in L’Aquila, the capital of Abruzzo, one hundred kilometers from Rome, which the pontiff flew by helicopter to and from the Vatican.
Thousands of people gathered to participate in the Festa del Perdono, conceived by Celestino V during the scarce four and a half months that his pontificate lasted, which the hermit monk reluctantly accepted. Forgiveness established plenary indulgences for the participants in the religious celebration for the first time. For more than seven centuries, the festival has continued to be celebrated.
That Pope Francis has decided to go to L’Aquila at this very moment when he is about to celebrate ten years of pontificate next March and the hypothesis of his resignation is “vox populi”, it does not allow to say that it is a coincidence.
Much more when the flight to L’Aquila forced him to become the Argentine Pope one day off in the Consistory which met to create 19 new cardinals and have the 197 cardinals present vote for the canonization of two new saints.
The Consistory will examine this Monday and Tuesday the reorganization of the Roman Curia, the central government of the Church, embodied in the Apostolic Constitution “Preach the Gospel”.
Francis he repeated several times that his resignation is not on the agenda. The issue was raised due to the intense pain in his right knee from osteoarthritis resulting from old hip problems for which he underwent surgery in Buenos Aires in 1994.
Doctors advised an operation to place a prosthesis, but the Pope rejected the idea for difficulty who suffered from the assimilation of anesthesia that was given to him when he was operated on for a diverticula infection of the large intestine more than a year ago, which forced the removal of 30 centimeters of intestinal mass.
Excluding the operation, it was the alternative of an infiltration and massage therapy which relieved the pain but did not solve the underlying problems. Jorge Bergoglio can get up and walk a little. But he does not recover autonomy.
In L’Aquila he was seen standing alone, hitting the holy door of the Basilica of Collemagno with a stick and walk a few meters to the wheelchair waiting for him, guided on foot by a Vatican gendarme.
Thus Francis came to the tomb of Celestine V. It is impressive to see the meticulously crafted silver death mask of the Pope of the Great Refusal, called for his will to resign, which forced him to flee, to take refuge in the Abruzzo mountains until he was identified by his successor Bonifacio VIII who had him imprisoned until his deathnearly three years later.
The Argentine Pope prayed for a few minutes alone and then two bishops arrived and gave him explanations. As he left the basilica of Collemagno, founded by Celestino V, footage from Vatican television showed Francis standing to greet the local authorities who had accompanied him.
Bergoglio was able to observe that in the tomb Pope Celestine has the canopy donated by his predecessor Benedict XVI on his shoulders, during the visit to the funeral monument that Pope Ratzinger made on April 23, 2009, when he visited L’Aquila 13 days after the devastating earthquake that suffered the city eqwhich caused more than 300 deaths and enormous destruction.
Ratzinger’s gesture, who left his pallium (a kind of long scarf) on the tomb of Celestine V, aroused the first speculations about the resignation of the German pope, which then seemed impossible.
Benedict XVI changed Church history when he resigned in February 2013that the Argentine Jorge Bergoglio, who chose to be called Francisco, elected 266 Pope in the Conclave on March 13.
Thirteen years have passed between the visits of Benedict XVI and Francis to the tomb of Celestino V. Francesco also concentrated on consoling the relatives of the victims of the earthquake, sharing how the reconstruction of L’Aquila is proceeding and also speaking to them in the Abruzzese dialect.
But few have escaped the deep meaning of your visit It was beyond the Holy Door of the Basilica of Collemagno, in front of the tomb of Celestino V.
Francisco’s gesture of coming right in the middle of a Consistory seems to be a confirmation that the question of his resignation exists but that the times are not urgent. May the Church also adapt to the reality of the Pope in a wheelchair, as the faithful quickly did.
Bergoglio’s power in the Church appears to be strengthened in this difficult time of his illness. Francisco honed his strategy in several interviews. He said he is not thinking about resigning now, but he has “opened a door” for the future. He corrects, in passing, the anomaly of the pope emeritus invented by his predecessor Ratzinger, full of risky ambiguities.
He explained that when the time comes to resign, he will do so as bishop of Rome, as did Benedict XVI. But he is not pope emeritus but Bishop emeritus the correct title for which, when he resigned, he left the San Pedro office vacant. There is only one Pope, Benedict will be the first and only Pope Emeritus in the history of the Church.
Francis affirmed that it is necessary to fill the gap in the rules to regulate the resignation of a pope. Internal Vatican sources have indicated that the documentation is already in the hands of the pontiff. Only “reasons of expediency” to avoid an affront to Joseph Ratzinger on the delicate question of the pope emeritus, they can delay the signature of the pontiff.