Pope Francis | credits: File copy
For the Catholic faithful, this piece of news will
definitely be hard to stomach: Pope Francis says he
has only two or three years to live.
Although the Argentina-born Pontiff was silent on
why he thinks he would not live for more than three
years, he hinted that he had ‘some nerve problems’
which require treatment.
He spoke with journalists aboard his jet as he
returned from a trip to South Korea.
Francis, according to the Mailonline on Tuesday, also
mentioned the possibility of retiring from the Papacy
if his health failed to cope with the rigours of his
His predecessor, Benedict XVI, stepped down last
year, in an unprecedented move that opened the way
for Francis to become the Pope.
“I see it as the generosity of the people of God. I try
to think of my sins, my mistakes, not to become
proud. Because I know it will last only a short time,”
the pope said.
Then, apparently light-heartedly, he added, “Two or
three years and then I’ll be off to the Father’s house.”
A Vatican source, said the Mailonline had claimed
that the Pope had previously told those close to him
that he thought he only had a few years to live.
Although Francis is 77, he has been the most
vigorous Pope in years, his energy proving the key to
His frank admission may lead commentators to
speculate as to whether he has any undisclosed
At the time of his elevation to the Papacy, reports
emerged that Francis had a lung removed when he
was a teenager in Argentina after suffering an
The Mailonline quoted Dr. William Schaffner,
chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt
University Medical Centre in Nashville, Tennessee in
United States, to have said, “So whatever they did got
him over that precarious period. As people age, they
generally become more susceptible to lung
infections, such as pneumonia and bronchitis.”
The risk of lung infections increases if those affected
have pre-existing conditions such as a weakened
immune system or heart disease.
But Francis joked about the nervous problems,
saying, “I must treat them well, these nerves, give
them mate (an Argentine stimulant tea) every day.”
“One of these neuroses, is that I’m too much of a
homebody,” he added and recalled that the last time
he had taken a holiday outside of Argentina was with
the Jesuit community in 1975.
Resigning the papacy, as his predecessor Benedict
XVI did last year, was also a possibility “even if it does
not appeal to some theologians”, Francis told the
He added that 60 years ago, it was practically
unheard of for Catholic bishops to retire, but
nowadays it was common.
As the jet travelled through the airspace, Francis also
addressed the issues surrounding the Catholic
Church in China, a country which refuses to allow
Catholics to officially recognise the spiritual
leadership of the Vatican.
Since the communist revolution, Catholicism, like all
religions, has been permitted to operate only under
the supervision of the State Administration for
Clerics who resisted this had been subjected to
oppression, including long imprisonment torture and
Pope Francis told the journalists he wanted dialogue
with China and the only thing he asked in return was
for the Catholic Church to be able to operate freely.