The Catholic press and social media have gone into PapalRumorModeOverdrive™ in recent days, touting gossip that the pope could be planning to join Benedict XVI in retirement at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery in the Vatican Gardens, perhaps as soon as December.
The speculation is linked to rumors that Francis is planning to legislate soon on the canonical status of retired popes, supposedly paving the way for his own decision to step down.
But is there any truth to these rumors? What kind of legal reforms could Francis make? And would they make any difference?
The Pillar explains.
Is there any truth to the rumor?
Reports about rumors are, almost by design, unfalsifiable. No one can really say who started them, or who is passing them around.
But once enough articles say people are talking about something, they become self-fulfilling: people start talking about it.
In the case of the 84-year old pope — one who has recently undergone major surgery to boot — persistent speculation about his health and potential longevity come with the job, and most Vatican watchers usually keep an eye on the politics of a future conclave — even if they are too polite to talk about it aloud.
In the current rumors, Francis is alleged to be mulling near-term resignation, an act effectively unheard of until Benedict became the first pope in centuries to exercise the option.
Read more at The Pillar