Pope's illness proves fuel for circling critics

April 02, 2023

Pope Francis's unexpected hospitalisation this week raised fresh questions over his future, providing fuel for critics hungry for a new head of the Catholic Church, experts say. His illness has "given more oxygen" to those seeking to protray him as weak or those who hope he will follow his predecessor Benedict XVI and resign, Robert Mickens, editor of the French Catholic newspaper La Croix International, told AFP. - 'Battleground' -In 2013, Benedict XVI became the first pope since the Middle Ages to resign, citing his declining physical and mental health. While Francis gives occasional titbits on his health in interviews, the Vatican provides barely any information, creating fertile ground for conspiracy theories. "It becomes a real sport, the Death watch", Mickens said.