In a candid 2019 interview published Saturday, Pope Francis reveals that he sees himself “dying as pope,” either in active duty or in retirement, and in Rome, because, he said, “I am not going back to Argentina.”
In the interview, published by Argentina’s paper of record, La Nacion, Pope Francis acknowledges that he does think about death, but says he is not afraid of it “at all.”
In context, the pope’s reference to not going back to Argentina appears to mean he won’t return for the end of his life, as many had speculated. However, given his reluctance to make a homecoming trip since his election in 2013, it could be that Francis meant he’s never going back at all.
The fact that Francis didn’t stop in Argentina in 2013, on his way to or from Brazil for World Youth Day, has led to speculation ever since about why the pontiff doesn’t want to go home, and, according to some opinion polls, a loss of support among his fellow Argentines who see the pope’s reluctance as a political choice.
For the past eight years, Francis has crisscrossed Latin America. Beyond the Guianas, the only nations in South America the first pope from the Global South hasn’t yet visited are Uruguay, Venezuela, and, of course, his own country, the land of Evita, Maradona and Che.