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Pope Francis dismisses allegations about resigning, says he wants to visit Moscow, Kyiv

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Pope Francis denied allegations that he will soon resign and explained that he is expecting to visit Canada this month and hopes to then travel to Moscow and Kyiv.

Media reports have suggested that a number of events in late August, including meetings with the world’s cardinals to discuss a new Vatican constitution and a visit to the Italian city of L’Aquila, could signal a resignation in the near future.

L’Aquila is associated with Pope Celestine V, who resigned in 1294. Pope Benedict XVI visited the city four years before his 2013 resignation.

“All of these coincidences made some think that the same ‘liturgy’ would happen,” Francis said in a recent interview with Reuters. “But it never entered my mind. For the moment no, for the moment, no. Really!”

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Pope Francis greets and blesses the children assisted by the Vatican’s Santa Marta Pediatric Dispensary at the Paul VI Hall.
(Stefano Costantino/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

But Francis did say, as he has multiple time before, that he might resign someday if poor health made it impossible for him to head the Church.

When asked when he believed such a time would arise, he said: “We don’t know. God will say.”

Francis also addressed the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. He said there has been communication between Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about a potential trip to Moscow.

No pope has ever paid a visit to Moscow, and Francis has repeatedly criticized Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Last week, Francis accused Moscow of waging a “cruel and senseless war of aggression” against its neighbor.

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Pope Francis addresses journalists on his flight back to Rome following a two-day visit at Fatima, Portugal, May 13, 2017.

Pope Francis addresses journalists on his flight back to Rome following a two-day visit at Fatima, Portugal, May 13, 2017.
(AP)

The Vatican originally asked about visiting several months ago, but according to Francis, Moscow said it was not the right time.

However, Francis did suggest that a trip may be more likely now.

“I would like to go [to Ukraine], and I wanted to go to Moscow first,” he said. “We exchanged messages about this because I thought that if the Russian president gave me a small window to serve the cause of peace …”

“And now it is possible, after I come back from Canada, it is possible that I manage to go to Ukraine,” he continued. “The first thing is to go to Russia to try to help in some way, but I would like to go to both capitals.”

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Pope Francis leaves after a meeting with young people in Havana, Cuba, Sunday Sept. 20, 2015.

Pope Francis leaves after a meeting with young people in Havana, Cuba, Sunday Sept. 20, 2015.
(AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

Francis also addressed the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade. He said he respected the court’s decision but did not know enough to speak on the legal side of the controversial subject.

He strongly condemned abortion, comparing it to “hiring a hit man”. 

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“I ask: Is it legitimate, is it right, to eliminate a human life to resolve a problem?” he said.

The Catholic Church’s teachings say life begins from the moment of conception.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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