“I don’t know wether I’ll be in Panama,” Pope Francis told World Youth Day volunteers in Poland, “but I can assure you that Peter will be!”
Earlier today, Pope Francis announced that the next WYD will be held in Panama in 2019. Regarding his reference to “Peter”: the pope is the successor of St. Peter, so in saying that “Peter” will be there, he means that the pope, whoever it is, will be there.
The only way Pope Francis would not be “Peter” in 2019 is if he died or resigned before then. The 79-year-old pontiff keeps a grueling schedule but has shown no signs of declining health; rather, he seems to have lots of energy. And though he has praised the humility of his predecessor Benedict XVI in resigning the papacy, Pope Francis said earlier this year that he has not so far seriously considered resigning himself.
While it’s possible Pope Francis may be dropping a hint that he is considering resigning in the next few years, it’s probably more likely that the pontiff is simply displaying humility before the providence of God. The next WYD isn’t for 3 years, and a lot could happen in that time that no one expects.
As the New Testament book of James teaches us:
[Y]ou who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. (James 4.13-17)