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PHOTO Pope Francis said he did not envisage a long papacy.
REUTERS: STEFANO RELLANDINI
Pope Francis says he has thought about when it might be time to “take leave” of his flock.
• The Pope made the comments when reflecting on St Paul discerning to leave his flock
• He said Pope Benedict XVI ‘opened doors’ for popes by resigning, all bishops must decide to leave
• He might have been referring to Chileans bishops implicated in a sex abuse cover-up scandal
Pope Francis made the comment during his morning homily on Tuesday; the Vatican did not release the full text.
The Pope was reflecting on St Paul discerning when to leave his flock in the care of others, a decision he said all bishops must make.
He said: “When I read this, I think about myself, because I’m a bishop and I’ll have to take my leave.”
Pope Francis has said retired Pope Benedict XVI “opened a door” to future popes by resigning.
While the 81-year-old Pope has said he does not envisage a long papacy, he has not said explicitly if he will retire.
Pope Francis may have also been referring to Chilean bishops implicated in a sex abuse cover-up scandal.
‘Overhaul the Chilean church’
Chile’s Catholic bishops said Monday (local time) they were open to whatever Pope Francis proposes to overhaul the Chilean church, including the removal of bishops, reforms of seminaries and paying financial reparation to victims of a clergy sex abuse and cover-up scandal.
Pope Francis summoned the bishops to Rome for an emergency summit after receiving a 2,300-page report on the abuse cover-up scandal.
During a visit to Chile in January, Pope Francis strongly defended a bishop, Juan Barros, who was accused by victims of Chile’s most notorious predator priest of having witnessed and ignored their abuse.
Pope Francis admitted he made “grave errors of judgement” in the case and blamed a “lack of truthful and balanced information” for his missteps.
Representatives of the Chilean bishops conference told reporters they were heading into three days of meetings with Pope Francis humbled, pained and shamed for their own errors in handling abuse cases.
They said they wanted to listen to Pope Francis and would follow his lead in asking forgiveness of the victims they had discredited.
A conference spokesman, Bishop Juan Ignacio Gonzalez, said “it’s possible” some bishops would offer to resign, but that it was up to the pope.
“We’ll respect what he says … If he asks, we’ll do it,” he said.