Pope Francis marked the second anniversary of his election on Friday by giving an interview in which he says he expects his time at the Vatican to only last for another two or three years.
“I have a feeling my pontificate will be brief,” the 78-year-old told Mexico’s Televisa channel.
“Four or five years, I don’t know. Two years have already gone by.
“It is a vague feeling I have that the Lord chose me for a short mission. I am always open to that possibility.”
The first pope from Latin America has hinted in the past that he could retire, emulating his predecessor Benedict XVI, who became the first pope to resign in seven centuries when he stepped down in February 2013.
Francis said Benedict had “opened an institutional door” but stopped short of repeating previous hints he could also resign, which drew criticism from some conservative theologians.
“The idea of fixing an age limit of 80 is not one I like very much,” he said, arguing that it would create lame-duck pontiffs.
Francis said he visited and spoke by telephone to Benedict, who lives a monastic life in a former convent inside the Vatican.
“He is happy, satisfied and respected by everyone,” he said. “He can be asked for advice and he is loyal to the death.”
Intriguingly, when asked if he liked being pope, Francis replies: “I don’t not like it,” before expanding on his dislike of travelling and his fondness for the comforts and familiarity of home.
Despite that, Francis insisted he did not feel lonely in the top job, although he did confess to sometimes longing for the anonymity enjoyed as the parish priest he once was.
One thing he would really like is to be able to go out of the Vatican one day without being recognised and “go and eat a pizza,” he said.