Pope Francis Says He Won't Retire Like Predecessor Benedict XVI

Pope Francis said on Sunday that he has no plans to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, and retire from his position as leader of the Catholic Church.

The pontiff responded to a question from a young person during an event at Vatican City on Sunday and assured Catholics and supporters that the thought of retirement has not even occurred to him.

"I never thought of quitting being pope, or of leaving because of the many responsibilities," The Associated Press quoted Pope Francis as saying.

The pontiff, who's a native of Argentina, became the first pope to come from Latin America when he began his papacy in March 2013 after Pope Benedict XVI became the first pope in nearly 600 years to step down from the most prominent religious leadership position in the world.

The last pope to retire before death prior to Benedict XVI was Pope Gregory XII in 1415.

The now 79-year-old Pope Francis joked in August 2014 that his papacy would only last two or three more years until he goes "off to the Father's house," but had not previously ruled out retiring like Pope Benedict XVI.

AP reports that there is some uncertainty about how many popes have stepped down from the papacy while still alive. While scholars are sure that there are at least four popes who have retired, there could be as many as eight popes that have done so.

Pope Francis' retirement remark was made during a Vatican event for the Scholas Occurentes global educational initiative.

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