POPE FRANCIS could step down from his role in 2020, according to unearthed claims from a source close to the Vatican leader, and a recent video showing him slapping away a woman’s hand has sparked additional controversy.
Yesterday, the Pope found himself at the centre of controversy as footage emerged of him greeting pilgrims at the Vatican. The 83-year-old lost his cool when an unknown woman grabbed and yanked him towards her just after he reached out to greet a young child, provoking him to slap her hand several times. During his Angelus address to a packed St Peter’s Square on New Year’s Day, the pontiff referred to his actions, saying: “I apologise for the bad example yesterday, sometimes even I lose patience.”
Following the heated exchanged, there were numerous calls on social media that the Pope should resign for his behaviour and unearthed footage shows they may get their wish.
One tweet read: “I think what the Pope did was horrible, he should resign.”
Another added: “This is his pure impotence, the Pope should resign having repented.”
A third claimed: “No pope should ever react like this, he should resign.”
I don’t think there’s ever been any doubt that he will resign in 2020
Austen Ivereigh, the former Director for Public Affairs of the previous Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, went one step further in 2013.
He said: “I don’t think there’s ever been any doubt that he will resign in 2020.
“He made clear from the beginning that he regarded Pope Benedict’s (XVI) act as a prophetic act of great modesty and he would have absolutely no problem in doing the same.
“What was interesting was he said to Mexican television in 2014 that he believed that he would have a short papacy of about five years.
“Now, given that he was elected in March 2013, then in 2017 he would have considered stepping down if nature hadn’t intervened.
“But what I’m hearing now from people close to him is that he’s going to need seven years to achieve his five-year plan and that, of course, would mean staying on until 2020.”
However, Mr Ivereigh admitted that the Pope does not think he is in control of how long he remains in office, therefore it is unlikely recent actions will force him out.
He added: “He knows he is in the hands of God and so none of this is predictable.
“You can look at it two ways, I mean politically you could say it is quite clever because he’s also signalling to those people who do want to see a change in the church, that there isn’t much time.
“He’s putting salt on the tail of everyone saying ‘we need to get this done,’ so I think you can take (his plan) both ways.
End of the world: How archaeologist discovered ‘real Maayan doomsday’ [VIDEO]
Mayan DISCOVERY: How find in ancient city ‘reveals creation story’ [CLAIM]
Egypt: How ‘greatest archaeological find of all time’ stunned expert [REVEALED]
“Some of his opponents are waiting for him to go and they will be encouraged by this.
“At the age of 79, we are talking here about him stepping down in his Eighties, in the year 2020, there aren’t many men, frankly, who are capable physically, let alone mentally, of leading a massive institution with all the demands that the papacy brings.”
If true though, Pope Francis would be only the second Vatican leader to do so in 600 years, following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI in 2013.
The move was unexpected, given that popes in the modern era have held the position from election until death.
However, Benedict stated that the reason for his decision was his declining health due to old age.