News that Pope Francis canceled a scheduled trip to Africa and plans to convene cardinals for a rare summer meeting has prompted speculation of an impending retirement for the pontiff – but while that scenario remains rumor for now, Catholic leaders warn that a second consecutive papal resignation could further destabilize an institution that's already reeling from internal division.
While those closest to the Vatican claim the resignation rumors are being spread by those who want to see Francis replaced, others say the pope's recent decisions require some consideration that, with the 85-year-old's health rapidly declining, he may be looking to take the necessary steps to ensure his reforms remain in place. If Francis were to retire, he would be following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who bucked the centuries-old tradition of serving as leader of the Catholic Church for life by stepping down due to health reasons in 2013.
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