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Pope Francis denies he is planning to resign soon

STORY: Pope Francis has dismissed reports that he plans to resign in the near future.

In an exclusive interview, Reuters Vatican correspondent Philip Pullella met with the pope in his Vatican residence on Saturday.

Francis said the thought of leaving his post had, quote, "never entered" his mind.

For the first time, he also spoke about a knee injury he said he was healing from that had prevented him from fulfilling some of his duties - making him cancel a trip to Africa, which he called 'painful'.

"It's a ligament that became inflamed, and because I walked badly and this walking badly moved a bone, (caused) a fracture there and that's the problem."

Rumours have swirled in the media that a conjunction of events in late August, including meetings with the world's cardinals to discuss a new Vatican constitution, could foreshadow a resignation announcement.

Instead, Francis told Reuters he was on track to visit Canada this month - and was hoping to make trips to the Russian and Ukrainian capitals.

No pope has ever visited Moscow, and Francis has repeatedly condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Last Thursday, he implicitly accused it of waging a "cruel and senseless war of aggression".

But Francis noted that there had been contact between the Vatican and Moscow about the possible trip.

"I would like to go (to Ukraine) and I wanted to go to Moscow first. We exchanged messages about this because I thought that if the president of Russia gave me a tiny window, I would go there to serve the cause of peace."

The 85-year-old pontiff also repeated his condemnation of abortion, following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last month.

"I ask: ‘Is it licit, is it right, to eliminate a human life to resolve a problem?’ It's a human life, that's science. The moral question is whether it is right to take a human life to solve a problem, indeed, is it right to hire a hitman to solve a problem?"

Francis also laughed off rumours that he had cancer, joking that his doctors didn't tell him anything.

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