RELIGION

Pope says mind of predecessor Benedict is still 'perfect'

Pope Francis, left, and retired Pope Benedict XVI embrace during a ceremony to celebrate Benedict's 65th anniversary of his ordination as a priest, in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, at the Vatican, Tuesday, June 28, 2016. The ceremony served in part to show continuity from Benedict to Francis amid continued nostalgia from some conservatives for Benedict’s tradition-minded papacy. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool photo via AP)

Pope Francis, left, and retired Pope Benedict XVI embrace during a ceremony to celebrate Benedict's 65th anniversary of his ordination as a priest, in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, at the Vatican, Tuesday, June 28, 2016. The ceremony served in part to show continuity from Benedict to Francis amid continued nostalgia from some conservatives for Benedict’s tradition-minded papacy. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Pope Francis says his predecessor as pontiff is having trouble getting around, but remains sharp of mind and memory.

The remarks about Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI come in an interview published Sunday by La Nacion, a major newspaper in Francis' native Argentina.

The pope says the 89-year-old Benedict "has problems moving around, but his head and memory are intact, perfect."

Francis also says his predecessor "is a revolutionary" for abdicating in 2013. He says the decision "was an act of government" that "exposed all the problems of the church."

The pope also seems to gripe about church conservatives, saying "They say no to everything." But he says he tries to avoid conflict. In his words, "I'm not a head-hunter."