Pope Francis addresses Vatican crowds prior to colon surgery
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The Pope was born on December 17, 1936, and celebrates his birthday during his eighth year in the Vatican. During that time, he has fought off speculation about his health on several occasions. The most recent was in July this year, and saw rampant speculation that his tenure may be nearing its end.
Could Pope Francis retire?
As he turns 85, Pope Francis is nearly two decades beyond retirement age in Italy, which is 67.
Previous health scares have seen people question whether he might want a successor to take over.
But following his most recent, he revealed he is nowhere near considering such a move.
In July, he received significant surgery on his lower intestine that removed a portion of his colon.
Surgeons in Rome removed diverticula, small pouches that sometimes develop in the digestive tract.
The Pope confidently declared to Cadena COPE in September that he was not considering retirement, and can now live a “totally normal life”.
He said the surgery allowed him to “eat everything”, which was not previously possible with the diverticula.
Francis said speculation about his health from Italian media was inevitable in his position.
Whenever a Pope is ill, he said, there is always “a breeze — or a hurricane — of a conclave”.
The Vatican forms a conclave of the College of Cardinals when they need to elect a new Pope.
He added: “Resign? I don’t even think about it.”
Experts have differing opinions, however, stating Francis has additional health issues.
Speaking to Euronews, Vatican expert Francesco Antonio Grana said he has “motor difficulties”.
Mr Grana added it was “under everyone’s eyes” and that the signs were present “before the colon operation”.
He also countered the Pope’s diet claims, stating the amount of intestine removed should require a “fairly strict diet”.
Catholic Bishops tend to retire long before Francis’ age, favouring resignation by around 75.
But they rarely do so and often serve until their death, much like monarchs in other countries.
His predecessor, Benedict XVI, broke a long-running tradition in 2013 when he retired aged 86.
Now 94, he was the first to make such a move since 1415.
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