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'Resign? Forget about it': Pope Francis plays down health fears

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By Alberto De Filippis
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Pope Francis
Pope Francis   -   Copyright  AP Photo
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Pope Francis says he has no intention of stepping down after undergoing major surgery on his lower intestine in July and speculation that the 85-year-old's health is worsening.

"Resign? I don't even think about it," he said in a radio interview on Wednesday, adding that despite his recent surgery he was living "a totally normal life".

"Now I can eat everything, which was not possible before with the diverticula,'' Francis said.

After the surgery, the Vatican said inflammation of diverticula, or pouches that protrude from the intestinal wall, had caused a narrowing of part of his large intestine.

In the interview with Cadena COPE, which is operated by the Spanish bishops’ conference, Francis said he still takes medication as his body adjusts to the smaller colon.

“I can eat everything. I still have the post-operative medications, because the brain has to register that it has 33 centimeters (about 13 inches) less intestine,'' Francis said.

But, the pope added that “besides that, I have a normal life. I lead a totally normal life.”

But Francesco Antonio Grana, a Vatican expert, told Euronews that the pontiff's state of health was worrying.

"Certainly we can see it, it is under everyone's eyes, he has motor difficulties," Grana said.

"This is evident, but we had also seen it before the colon operation. His right hip has been waiting for years for a prosthesis which is unlikely to arrive after the operation he underwent on 4 July.

"He has had 33 cm of intestine removed, and for a man of 85, that means a fairly strict diet”.

Popes traditionally serve until death and when Francis's predecessor, Benedict XVI, stood down from his position as pontiff in 2013 he was the first to do so since 1415. Benedict retains the title of Pope Emeritus, begging the question of what title Pope Francis would take if he was to resign.