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Former Confessor Says Paul VI Considered Resigning

March 30, 1988

ROME (AP) _ Pope Paul VI considered resigning, fearing his infirmity and old age would damage the Roman Catholic Church, his former confessor was quoted Tuesday as saying.

The pontiff died of a heart attack in August 1978, a month before his 81st birthday, in the 15th year of his pontificate.

″With his advancing years and the decline of his strength, Paul VI thought seriously and on various occasions of resigning,″ the Rev. Paolo Dezza, a Jesuit priest, was quoted as telling the Catholic monthly 30 Giorni (30 Days).

But Dezza said Paul was aware that a resignation would be an ″unusual act″ and prayed often he would be able to work until his death, according to the magazine.

Because of Paul VI’s frail health, rumors persisted he would step down when he turned 75, the age at which bishops must submit their resignations.

At least one pope is known to have resigned, Celestine V in 1294.

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