Pope Francis says he has no plans to retire: 'Never thought of quitting being pope'

Pope Francis says he’s not going anywhere any time soon.

The first Latin American pontiff, responding to a question from during a Vatican event, said on Sunday: “I never thought of quitting being pope, or of leaving because of the many responsibilities.”

Quitting the papacy was opened up as a possibility by Francis’ predecessor Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI.

The pope has previously said he envisioned a short papacy before going on "to the Father's house," but he has never specifically ruled out following in Benedict's footsteps. Benedict retired in 2013, the first pope to step down in 600 years.

The gathering on Sunday was part of the Scholar Occurentes global educational initiative that he launched.

Actors Richard Gere and George Clooney, who was accompanied by wife Amal, were honored for their contributions.

Mexican actress Salma Hayek was also honored and attended the event with her daughter Valentina and husband Francois-Henri Pinault.

Valentina, 8, also received a blessing and a kiss from Francis, which Hayek shared on her Instagram.

Other high-profile celebrities have met with Francis in the past, including Eva Longoria (and husband Jose Antonio Baston) and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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