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Francis Senses His Papacy 'Will Be Brief'

  • VOA News

FILE - Pope Francis prays during a Mass at Rizal Park in Manila, Philippines, Jan. 18, 2015.

FILE - Pope Francis prays during a Mass at Rizal Park in Manila, Philippines, Jan. 18, 2015.

Pope Francis marked the second anniversary of his election Friday with a prediction that he would not be pope for long.

"I have the feeling that my pontificate will be brief — four or five years," he told Mexican broadcaster Televisa. "I don't know. Or two or three. Well, two have already passed."

Francis said he did not dislike being pope but missed his freedom.

"The only thing I would like is to be able to go out one day without anyone recognizing me and go to a pizzeria to eat a pizza," he said.

The Argentine-born pontiff has indicated he could retire like his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. Last year, Francis jokingly said he might die in two or three years.

Commemorating his anniversary Friday, the 78-year-old pope also announced an "Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy." The year will begin December 8.

The last two extraordinary holy years were 1933 and 1983, marking the 1,900th and 1,950th anniversaries of Jesus' death and resurrection.

The leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, Francis has been hailed for his openness and tolerant approach to issues such as homosexuality and divorce.

Within the church, his views have not been received well by everyone, but they have drawn praise worldwide.

During his two years as pope, Francis has visited Eastern Europe, Asia, South America and the Middle East.

In September, he is set to become the fourth pope to visit the United States since Pope Paul VI traveled to New York City in 1965.

Francis is traveling to the U.S. to attend a global conference on families in the eastern city of Philadelphia. Speaker John Boehner of the U.S. House of Representatives said this month that Francis would also visit Washington and address Congress. Church officials have said the United Nations in New York will most likely be another stop on his trip.

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