In an interview on Friday, Pope Francis said he believes his pontificate will be rather short, not longer than four of five years, and he thinks he might follow in his predecessor’s footsteps by resigning.
The interview was conducted by the Mexican broadcaster Televisa, on the second anniversary of his election. Pope Francis also said that he misses being able to eat in a pizzeria and not being recognized. The pontiff added that he felt his calling as a pope is only a short-term engagement.
At the venerable age of 78, Pope Francis appears to be in good health, but that is not the reason of his early retirement. The pontiff insisted that his predecessor’s act of resigning should not be seen as an exception, but the beginning of an institution.
Pope Benedict XVI changed a 600 years tradition of ruling until death in 2013 by becoming the first leader of the Roman Catholic Church to outlive his function. Francis is, however, not a particular fan of a set retirement age for popes, giving everyone the change of choosing their own pontificate.
In the same interview, the current pope announced an extraordinary holy year for the Roman Catholic Church; this is one of the most special events of the religion, marking various pilgrimages that followers take to Rome or other religious icons around the world.
The last holy year – also known as a jubilee – was in 2000, and Rome buzzed with the millions of pilgrims who took part in various religious celebrations during the entire year. The announcement came as a surprise for Catholics, and Francis explained that this holy year’s main focus is the topic of mercy, a theme which flows like a red thread throughout his entire papacy.
According to his statement, the holy year will take place between December 8 and November 20, 2016. Even though the tradition is more than 700 years old, this next holy year is only the 29th in the church’s history.
With the exception of the extraordinary holy years, they normally take place every 25 years. A pope decrees an extraordinary holy year when they feel that a specific need or subject requires special attention. Before the announcement, believers expected the next holy year to be in 2025.
The 1.2 billion Catholic Church members are called by their leader to a living more merciful lives, by showing forgiveness and generosity toward sinners. This jubilee, the pontiff wants the faithful to rediscover the love of the church that doesn’t refuse sinners, but accepts and forgives them.
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