He made this revelation during an interview with Spanish newspaper ABC, which was published in full on Dec. 18. The pontiff's disclosure was made in response to the outlet's question about what would happen "if a pontiff is suddenly disabled due to health problems or an accident."
"I have already signed my resignation," replied the pope, adding that he did so during the term of former Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. "I signed it and told him: 'In case of impediment for medical reasons or whatever it may be, here is my resignation.' They already have it."
"I don't know who Cardinal Bertone gave it to, but I gave it to him when he was secretary of state," Francis added. Bertone was appointed by Francis' predecessor Benedict XVI in 2006, but stepped down in 2013. Incumbent Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin took over the post Bertone vacated.
"That's why I'm saying it," he answered in response to whether he wanted to make this fact known or not.
"Now, someone will go to ask Bertone for it: 'Give me that piece of paper.' He probably handed it over to Parolin, the new secretary of state."
The Jesuit told ABC that he has not delved at all into a statute to specifically define the concept of pope emeritus. "I didn't even have the idea of doing it," he said. "It must be that the Holy Spirit has no interest in me being concerned about those things."
Incidentally, Benedict XVI – Francis' predecessor – cited "declining health due to old age" as a reason for his resignation as pope in 2013. The German-born former pope's resignation came more than seven centuries since Pope Celestine V stepped down in 1294.
The interview came amid continuing speculation about Francis following the footsteps of his predecessor. Reports of the 86-year-old leader of the Catholic Church being escorted everywhere in a wheelchair also fueled the rumors. But according to the Jesuit pope, Paul VI and Pius XII had also signed similar letters of resignation in case of permanent impediment.
During the same interview, Francis also responded to concerns brought up by Catholics. Many have pointed out that the pope gives attention to those outside the Catholic Church while neglecting the faithful. He accused these individuals of the "ugly sin" of "hidden ambition," and compared them to the ungrateful older brother in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
In response to the sexual abuse crisis plaguing the Catholic Church, the pontiff seemingly condoned the decades-long practice of bishops covering up clerical sexual crimes based on the "hermeneutics of the time."
"You have to interpret the problems with the hermeneutics of their time. It is unfair to judge an ancient situation with today's hermeneutics," he said. "The hermeneutic of yesteryear was to hide everything." (Related: Pope Francis's disgusting history of protecting pedophiles and smearing abuse victims.)
"My explanation is this: There is not enough strength to face them. I understand that they do not know how to deal with them, but I do not justify them. First, the [Catholic] Church covered them up, then it had the grace to widen its gaze and to say 'no' to the last consequences."
Watch this video about Pope Francis' acknowledgement that adults can be victims of sexual abuse by priests.
This video is from The Clampdown Report channel on Brighteon.com.