Pope's Illness

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Birchy | 09:27 Wed 02nd Feb 2005 | News
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Does a Pope have to die in the job, or can he be replaced before this? John Paul II's health will not improve with the workload/travel, so can he "retire"?


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Tradition has always been that the Pope remains 'in post' until his death - and the current incumbent shows no sign of wishing to head for the allotment.
There has only ever been one pope who abdicated in the entire history of the papacy.  Don't quote me on this but I have a feeling his name was Celestine 5th and he is mentioned in Dante's Inferno.
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Yes the abdicator was Celestine V

1295 I think - not a success, he had appointed a series of French Cardinals before anyone could stop him. This precipitated the [Great] Schism when the popes set up shop at Avignon.....Then there were two popes one at Rome and one at Avignon. England for rather obvious reasons followed Rome.

in 1415 - there were briefly three! - each one calling the other two AntiChrists.

going down to one meant a few had to be deposed. - so that is another way of leaving. Sort of abdicating by force.

So yup, there are a few ways you can leave the papacy without going out in a long wooden box.

Traditionally you're Pope until death, but it also used to be the case that you were Bishop until death, but JP II has introduced a mandatory retirement age for them (70, I think) - however he excluded the Papacy itself from that. Personally (and I should say I am a Catholic) I don't see why they can't pension him off to some small town in Poland and get a new(er) Pope.

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Pope's Illness

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