ROME — Addressing the rumors spread recently by a handful of Italian journalists regarding his resignation, Pope Francis said that whenever a pontiff is sick “there’s a breeze, or a hurricane” regarding a new papal election.
Referring to his July colon surgery, he also revealed that “a nurse saved my life.”
Speaking in a 90-minute interview with Spanish Radio COPE, which will be broadcast in full Wednesday, Francis reportedly spoke about his health and rumors of an upcoming resignation, but he also spoke about Afghanistan, immigration and assisted suicide in Spain, a practice that was legalized June 25.
He also reportedly sends a message to both the United States and Europe regarding the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan. The pope has spoken about what’s happening in the Central Asian country twice, but never naming either the U.S. nor Europe, focusing instead on appealing for dialogue and urging for women and children to be protected. His first remarks on the subject came on Sunday 15, when the Taliban took over Kabul, following the beginning of the withdrawal of U.S. troops.
Asked about his health, Francis said, “I’m still alive,” and then leaving jokes aside added that a “nurse saved my life, a man with a lot of experience. It’s the second time a nurse saves my life. The first one was in 1957.”
The first time took place in Argentina, when the pope was a young seminarian, in the hospital with pneumonia. An Italian nun, defying the doctor’s orders, decided to change the medication the young Jorge Mario Bergoglio needed. The pope has referred to this episode on several occasions.
Francis underwent surgery last July 4 “for severe diverticular stenosis with signs of sclerosing diverticulitis,” in which part of his colon was removed and for which he was hospitalized for 10 days.
In recent public appearances, he seemed fully recovered, but in an audience with Catholic legislators during the weekend he began his speech by apologizing for the fact that he would remain seated while reading his speech, arguing that he’s still recovering from his surgery.
When pressed about a possible resignation, Francis said: “Whenever a pope is sick, there’s a breeze or hurricane of conclave,” referring to the process through which popes are elected.
According to Carlos Herrera, the journalist who interviewed the pope, “we came with many questions and we left the Vatican with many answers.”
The reporter, considered one of Spain’s best radio journalists, publicly thanked COPE’s Rome correspondent, Eva Fernandez, acknowledging that the pope had confirmed to her that the interview would happen.
Cope belongs to the Spanish bishops’ conference, and it is the second radio in terms of audience in Spain.
Follow Inés San Martín on Twitter: @inesanma