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REPORT: Meeting At Vatican, Cancelled Trip Sparks Rumors Pope Francis Might Resign

REUTERS/Yara Nardi

Mary Rooke Staff Writer
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Speculation is growing that Pope Francis might resign after the cancellation of his planned trip to Africa was followed by an announcement of a meeting between cardinals.

Pope Francis postponed his July trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan and called for an extraordinary consistory to be held during the August Vatican recess, the Daily Mail reported Monday. Rumors that the pontiff would resign have sine escalated, according to the Daily Mail.

In recent weeks, the pope has heavily relied on a wheelchair to help with mobility and was forced to cancel or modify events at the Vatican after a persistent knee injury caused him severe pain. (RELATED: Pope Francis Promotes Bishop In Favor Of Allowing Pelosi And Biden To Receive Communion)

The meeting of cardinals will be held Aug. 27, a time typically reserved for vacation, and will allow the pope to appoint 21 new cardinals, including 16 who will be eligible to elect his successor in the case of his death or resignation, the Daily Mail reported.

Journalist and former Fox News host, Megyn Kelly, said her Vatican guide explained this morning that the turn of events was “highly unusual.” Kelly was in Vatican City at the time.

“Inside the Vatican, moments ago, we saw a ton of cardinals, which our guide tells us is highly unusual. They are not used to seeing that,” Kelly reported.

A Vatican source told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that the news of the pope’s possible resignation is still only a rumor.

“In the pope’s entourage, the majority of people don’t really believe in the possibility of a resignation,” the Vatican source told the AFP.

Italian Vatican expert Marco Politi also spoke to the AFP, saying that the resignation rumors are fueled “by the pope’s opponents who are eager to see Francis leave.”

“At this stage, it is a question of being realistic and not alarmist,” Politi told AFP.

Pope Francis joked with Catholic bishops before his knee surgery in May that he would rather resign from his post than have the knee operation, according to the Daily Mail.