Pope Benedict XVI took the unusual step of stepping down from the papacy in 2013. Only three other popes in history have retired, and it was almost 600 years since the last one made that unusual decision.
Now, it looks like Pope Francis is thinking about making “retired pope” an actual thing.
In remarks reported by the Associated Press, Pope Francis, while delivering a homily on Tuesday, said he had been reflecting on the Apostle Paul discerning when to leave his flock under the leadership of another pastor.
Francis indicated that this was a decision all church leaders 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.”
The Vatican did not release the rest of his remarks. But Pope Francis, who is 81-years-old, has previously said that Benedict’s retirement “opened a door” for future popes to not feel like they have to serve until they die.