Once more the 78-year-old Francis seems to be racing against the clock, and many in Rome are speculating that his decision to declare such a momentous event so soon in his papacy, barely two years after his election, is to be sure he gets one in before time runs out, as if he is holding a sort of last hurrah or a farewell ceremony. And there are sad, almost sinister undertones.
“This pope seems to be in a hurry to get as much done as he can, as if he’s got a deadline,” Marco Politi, a Vatican expert, said at a small roundtable discussion on Francis and the length of his papacy last week. “He keeps talking about how his time is short, but it’s not because he’s sick. He has told his friends that he feels it will be an ‘event’ that wipes him out, not a natural end.”
In an interview with the Mexican network Televisa this month on the occasion of his second anniversary as pope, the pontiff repeated the idea that his days are numbered. He said he had a feeling that his reign at the helm of the Roman Catholic Church wouldn’t last too long, echoing previous comments in which he said he had a “vague sensation” that his time was short. “I have the feeling that my pontificate will be brief—four or five years,” he said. “I don’t know, even two or three.”