Pope Francis expects to die in Rome as pontiff and will not return to homeland – author

Pope Francis' doctor dies from COVID-19 'complications'

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Francis, 84, gave an interview to Argentinian journalist and physician Nelson Castro at the Vatican in February 2019 for his book ‘The Health Of Popes’. In extracts from the book, the Pope says he thinks about death, but does not fear it, and said he expects to spend the rest of his life in the Vatican.

When asked how he sees himself spending time close to his death, the Pope confirmed his wish to stay in Rome.

He said: “I will be pope, either active or emeritus, and in Rome. I will not return to Argentina.”

Mr Castro’s books claims “this is the first time that a pope has discussed his health with the transparency afforded by Francis”.

Traditionally, the Vatican has not been forthcoming about information regarding the Pope’s health.

Other extracts from the book, published by Argentinian newspaper La Nacion, saw Francis, formerly archbishop of Buenos Aires, say he does not miss living in Argentina.

Alluding to the country’s economic crisis, he said: “No, I do not miss it. I lived there for 76 years. What pains me are its problems.”

Francis recalled sneaking people out of the country during Argentina’s military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983, adding: “Imagine what it was like to take a person hidden in a car – only covered by a blanket – and pass three military checkpoints…the tension it generated was enormous.

“I had to deal with situations that I did not know how to deal with.”

Recently, Francis sparked concern for his health when he was addressing members of the Roman Rota, a top Catholic Church tribunal, on January 29.

At the event, marking the opening of the Holy See’s judicial year, the pontiff said: “I would like to speak to you standing up but sciatica is a troublesome guest.

“So I apologise and will speak sitting down.”

He also had to postpone his New Year’s greeting for ambassadors, and skipped New Year masses at St Peter’s Basilica, due to a bout of sciatica, a chronic nerve condition.

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Francis opened up about his battle with the nerve condition shortly after he was elected head of the Catholic Church in 2013.

He said to reporters: “The worst thing that happened – excuse me – was an attack of sciatica – really! – that I had the first month, because I was sitting in an armchair to do interviews and it hurt.

“Sciatica is very painful, very painful! I don’t wish it on anyone!”

Sciatica can cause severe pain in the lower body, as a result of the compression of nerve roots that run from the lower spine down the thigh, and is often caused by a slipped disc in the spine.

The Pope was left paralysed for several days by the condition in 2007.

It comes as Francis is “considering” visiting Glasgow to attend the COP26 climate change summit this November.

The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland have reportedly been told to prepare for Francis’ potential visit, according to the Times.

In a statement, Scotland’s bishops said: “While the decision on whether or not the Pope attends the UN climate summit in Glasgow will be a matter entirely for the Holy See, Scotland’s Catholic bishops would warmly welcome his presence, however briefly, in this country.”

The visit would mark the Pope’s first appearance in Scotland since September 2010.

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