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Letter from Rome: Is the pope preparing to stand down?

Some are wondering whether 2020 may be Francis' last year on the Chair of Peter

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Letter from Rome: Is the pope preparing to stand down?

Photo courtesy of vaticanum.com

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This was supposed to be the year. "When the history of Pope Francis' time as bishop of Rome is finally written, there is a good chance that the Year of Our Lord 2020 will be recorded as the most important of his entire pontificate.” At least that's what I thought back in January.

But suddenly the coronavirus pandemic arrived and, now, everything looks up for grabs. It did not look like that at the beginning of the year. Some are wondering whether it may actually be Francis' last year as pope.

The pope's recent decisions to "retire" the powerful Italian churchman Angelo Sodano as dean of the College of Cardinals and to make Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of the Philippines head one of the most powerful Vatican offices — Propaganda Fide — are being read as signs that Francis is beginning to prepare for the election of his successor on the Chair of Peter.

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