Pope rules out retiring like his predecessor

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US actor Richard Gere, right, and his girlfriend, Alejandra Silva, arrive at a meeting with the Scholas Occurrentes, an educational organization founded by Pope Francis, at the Vatican.

US actor Richard Gere, right, and his girlfriend, Alejandra Silva, arrive at a meeting with the Scholas Occurrentes, an educational organization founded by Pope Francis, at the Vatican. (Photo: AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Pope Francis says he has no intention of quitting the papacy — a possibility opened up by his predecessor Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI.

The pope, responding to a question from a young person at a Vatican event, said on Sunday "I never thought of quitting being pope, or of leaving because of the many responsibilities."

The pope has previously said he envisioned a short papacy before going on "to the Father's house," but he has never specifically ruled out following in Benedict's footsteps. Benedict retired in 2013, the first pope to step down in 600 years.

The pope spoke at a Vatican gathering for the Scholas Occurentes global educational initiative that he launched. George Clooney, accompanied by his wife Amal, and Richard Gere were honored for their contributions.

-AP

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