People are speculating on the Internet that Pope Francis is resigning. However, is this story true? The answer is that it’s unconfirmed, and the reports, which have emanated from a handful of European websites, are hinged on a quote from an author who denies saying it. Pope Francis and the Vatican have not confirmed that the Pope is resigning.
The report circulated on December 23 on a couple of European websites. But the author – a Francis biographer – who is quoted as the basis for the rumor on those websites has tweeted that it’s “fake news.” Indeed, he doesn’t believe that the Pope’s resignation is imminent, in part because he believes that the Pope is focused on helping humanity through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The #fakenews story keeps getting picked up about my predicting the pope’s resignation in 2020. Because he has ignored my tweets and messages, I have now emailed (attached) the @Daily_Express reporter @CallumHoare asking for a correction and its removal. Don’t hold your breath,” wrote Austen Ivereigh.
In a letter to a British publication that he posted to Twitter, Ivereigh called it “absurd to speculate about the Pope resigning in 2020 when he has an apostolic visit planned to Iraq in March 2021, Pope Emeritus Benedict remains very much alive, and Francis himself is in rude good health.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Ivereigh Says a Quote Attributed to Him About the Pope’s Supposed Resignation Was Made Up
The #fakenews story keeps getting picked up about my predicting the pope’s resignation in 2020. Because he has ignored my tweets and messages, I have now emailed (attached) the @Daily_Express reporter @CallumHoare_ asking for a correction and its removal. Don’t hold your breath. pic.twitter.com/MuDVLVEn6m
— Austen Ivereigh (@austeni) December 23, 2020
In a letter to a British publication, Ivereigh called an article reporting the supposed resignation as “grotesquely untrue.” He said the Daily Express had made “attempts to use me to buttress its false claims.”
He said it’s tarnishing his reputation as well as that of Pope Francis. Ivereigh said a widely circulated quote that he said, “I don’t think there’s ever been any doubt that he will resign in 2020” was not true.
“I have never said this, to anyone, and I don’t believe it. You have made this quote up. Either that, or you took it from a piece on an esoteric website, in Spanish, in January 2020 I have just found. I never spoke to that site. They, too, made that quote up.”
He said he did recognize a piece of the quote saying that the Pope “regarded Pope Benedict’s act as a prophetic act of great modesty and he would have absolutely no problem in doing the same.”
He added “but that is a very different matter from predicting there is ‘no doubt’ if it would happen in 2020.
In fact, what he really believes is that the Pope “had a five-year reform plan that was extended to seven years, and in my view the Pope could not begin to consider any resignation until at least 2020. But I always went on, this would be only after leading the funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict and if he felt it was God’s will.”
In contrast, he believes the Papacy is in “full flow.”
“Had you read my book that came out last year, Wounded Shepherd, I make clear that this is a Papacy in full flow and laid out some of the criteria for his decision-making on the topic of any potential resignation, which I certainly did not regard as imminent.” In fact he believes that the COVID crisis “has meant completing his reform plan next year, rather than this one and that leading humanity through the crisis has reinvigorated his pontificate. “
Several European Websites Passed on the Fake Ivereigh Quote
The major European media (like the BBC) haven’t reported the claim.
The site FRNews.com based its report on the quote from Austen Ivereigh, defined as “the former director of public affairs for the former Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and continues to work closely with the Vatican.” Again, he says he didn’t say it.
That site quoted Ivereigh as saying: “I don’t think there was ever any doubt that he will resign in 2020.He made it clear from the start that he viewed Pope Benedict XVI’s act as a prophetic act of great modesty and that he would have absolutely no problem doing the same…What I’m hearing now from those close to him is that it’s going to take him seven years to complete his five-year plan and that of course that would mean staying until 2020.”
The site also quoted a 2014 interview that Pope Francis gave to Mexican television in which he indicated his time as Pope wouldn’t be long. “I have the feeling that my pontificate will be brief. Four or five years. I don’t know, or two, three. Well, two have already passed,” Pope Francis was quoted as saying. “It’s like a little vague feeling, but I have the feeling that the Lord puts me [here] for a brief thing and no more.”
FR24 News defines itself as, “R24 News is your news, entertainment, music fashion website. We provide you with the latest breaking news and videos straight from the entertainment industry.”
A site called Euro Weekly News also has the report. It claims that Pope’s 2014 comments on Mexican television were given to Valentina Alazraki, on the Mexican TV show “Noticieros Televisa.” The site quotes the same comments from Ivereigh that he says are made up.