“I don’t think I can continue to travel at the same pace as before,” he said in answers to questions from reporters aboard the plane returning to Rome from a week-long trip in Canada.
For the past few months, Francis, 85, has been using a wheelchair, cane or walker because of knee pain caused by a fracture and inflamed ligament.
He walked with a cane to the aft cabin where reporters travel, but sat in a wheelchair for the traditional, 45-minute post-travel press conference, the first time in his 37 international trips since being elected Pope in 2013. .
“I think at my age and with this limitation I have to keep myself a little bit in order to serve the Church, or decide to step aside,” Francis said.
The pace of the trip to Canada, which focused on apologizing for the Church’s role in residential schools to assimilate Indigenous children, was slower than in the past, usually with only two events a day and long rest periods.
Francis said he preferred not to have surgery on his knee because he didn’t want a repeat of the long-term negative side effects of the anesthesia he had suffered from bowel surgery a year ago.
“But I will try to keep traveling to be close to the people because it is a way of serving,” he said.
He indicated that he would first travel to places he had already promised, such as South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon and perhaps Kazakhstan, before deciding on future trips.
“I have all the good will, but we’ll have to see what the leg says,” he said.
‘The door is open’
In an interview with Reuters this month, Francis said he had no plans to resign anytime soon.
He has often said he could follow in the Pope’s footsteps Benedictwho in 2013 became the first pope in 600 years to resign rather than rule for life.
“This is, to be fair, not a catastrophe. There could be a change of popes, no problem with that,” he said.
“The door is open. It’s one of the normal options. Until today I haven’t used that door. I didn’t think it necessary to think about this possibility, but that doesn’t mean I won’t the day after tomorrow” don’t start about it think,” he said.
“This trip was a bit of a test. It’s true that I can’t travel in this state. Maybe the style needs to change, make fewer trips, take the trips I promised to do, do things again. But it will take the Lord are they decided. The door is open,” he said.