(ANSA) – ROME, JULY 5 – Pope Francis has denied wanting to resign or having cancer, two rumors sparked by news that he is to visit the shrine of a medieval pope who resigned at the end of the 13th century as the predecessor of Francis Benedict XVI.
The rumor was sparked by the Vatican’s announcement that Francis will visit the shrine of Celestine V in central Italy in mid-August.
Benedict shocked the world in 2013 when he became the second pope since Celestine to abdicate, citing advanced age and increasingly frail health.
Celestine’s abdication after just five months on the throne of St. Peter in 1294 earned him Dante’s condemnation to the Underworld, with the Florentine poet blaming the hermit pope for his “great refusal”.
Francis began using a wheelchair due to a knee problem in recent months, but told Reuters on Monday he had no intention of emulating his immediate predecessor and resigning for health reasons.
He also crushed the rumor that he had cancer.
François is now the same age as Benoît when he resigned, 85 years old.
The Argentine pope said it is acceptable for pontiffs to resign if they feel they are not up to it. (ANSA).
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