Pope Francis says if he were to resign he would live in Rome

Pontiff addresses retirement rumours in interview.

Pope Francis said that in the event of an eventual resignation from the papacy he would live in Rome, ruling out a return to his native Argentina or staying in the Vatican.

The pontiff, 85, addressed the persistent retirement rumours in an interview with the Spanish-language networks Univision and Televisa broadcast on 12 July.

Underlining his role as bishop of the Italian capital, the pope said that if he were to retire it would be as “the bishop emeritus of Rome.”

Asked by Mexican journalist Valentina Alazraki if he would go to the Archbasilica of S. Giovanni in Laterano, the pontiff replied: “Perhaps. I would go to a church and hear confessions.”

Rumours about the pope's possible retirement come as Francis deals with poor health and worsening mobility, forcing him to cancel a trip to Africa this month.

Speculation was fuelled further after Francis called a consistory in August, instead of the more traditional November, during which he will create 16 new cardinals who will have the power to elect his successor.

The rumour mill went into overdrive when it was announced that in August Francis would visit the Basilica of S. Maria de Collemaggio, in L'Aquila, which holds the tomb of Pope Celestine V who in 1294 became the first pope to resign.

Last week, in an interview with Reuters, Francis dismissed reports that he is planning to resign in the near future.

He did so again in the latest interview, stressing that “for the moment” he is not considering resigning from the papacy, as his predecessor Benedict XVI did in 2013 when he stunned the world by becoming the first pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415.

Francis shrugged off the analysis of his possible resignation as "pure coincidence", saying: “Truly, in this moment, I don’t feel that the Lord is asking me” to retire. “When I feel that he asks me, then yes."

Photo Daniel Ibanez - Catholic News Agency (CNA)