The 83-year-old became head of the Catholic Church following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI – a controversial move and the first of its kind in more than 500 years. However, a source close to Pope Francis claimed he would only serve for seven years, saying he would follow in his predecessor’s footsteps. Austen Ivereigh is 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.
“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 was interesting was that he said on Mexican TV in 2014 that he thought he would have a short papacy of about five years.
“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.
Speaking in a lengthy television interview with the Mexican show “Noticieros Televisa”, the Pope responded to a question from journalist Valentina Alazraki about the duration of her papacy.
He said: “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.
“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.
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And the Pope’s Christmas blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and to the world) will be given, as usual, at noon on Christmas Day from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Therefore, he would end up with a window of less than a week if Mr. Ivereigh’s prediction was valid.
In their announcement of his festive plans, the Pope’s next event does not fall until December 31, 2020, which is an address for St. Peter’s Basilica to “thank God for the past year”.
However, the author also said that the Pope’s comments should not be taken as fact.
“You can look at it two ways, I mean politically, you could say it’s pretty smart because it also signals to those people who want to see a change in the church, that there is not much time.
“He’s putting salt on everyone’s tail and saying ‘we’ve got to get there’, so I think you can take (his plan) both ways.
“Some of his opponents are waiting for his departure and they will be encouraged by that.
“At the age of 79, we are talking here about his resignation at 80, in 2020, there are not many men, frankly, capable physically, and even less mentally, to lead a massive institution with all demands them that the papacy brings.