Pope Francis has dismissed the idea that he could soon resign and stated clearly for the first time, “I believe that the pope’s ministry is ad vitam [for life]. I see no reason why it should not be so.” He added that it should not become “a fashion, a normal thing” for popes to resign.

He made this highly significant statement in conversation with the Jesuit community in the Democratic Republic of the Congo when he met them at the nunciature in Kinshasa on Feb. 2.

He did so in response to a question from a Congolese Jesuit who said: “There has been talk of your possible resignation. Are you really intent on leaving the Petrine ministry? What about the General of the Society? In your opinion, should his post remain for life?” […]

A report on the conversations between Pope Francis and the Jesuits in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in South Sudan was published by the Jesuit journal La Civilità Cattolica in various languages, including English, today, Feb. 16. Its editor, Antonio Spadaro S.J., was part of the papal entourage and recorded both conversations.

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