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Pope reveals he signed abdication in case of serious illness

The pontiff turned 86

MADRID, December 18. /TASS/. Pope Francis has admitted that he has already signed a document on his abdication in case of serious health deterioration.

"I have already signed my abdication," he said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper ABC published on Sunday, "The Secretary of State [at the time] was Tarcisio Bertone." "I signed it and told him, 'In case of impediments for medical reasons or whatever, here is my abdication'," the pontiff noted, "I don't know who Cardinal Bertone gave it to. He must have given it to Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the new Secretary of State," Francis added.

He also admitted that he often visited Benedict XVI, who in 2013 became the first pope in several centuries to abdicate, a decision he had taken due to the fact that he proved too weak to rule the church. Francis called the 95-year-old Benedict a "saint".

The pontiff turned 86 on Saturday. Pope Francis (born Jorge Mario Bergoglio) was born December 17, 1936, in Buenos Aires to Italian immigrants. On March 13, 2013, after Benedict XVI's abdication, he was elected the 266th pope.