Kung proposes mandatory papal retirement
Prominent theologian and frequent critic of the Vatican, Fr Hans Kung, has proposed term limits or a mandatory retirement age for popes.
"A limit determined by age for the head of the Catholic Church, or a reduction of the pontifical mandate to six, eight or 12 years, is a matter of human rights," Fr Kung told a Swiss radio station on February 18, according to the Italian news agency ANSA.
Fr Kung said it was "unbearable" that the Church was currently headed by someone he characterised as "not fully present from a psychic or physical point of view".
Pope John Paul II, 80, suffers from a nervous system disorder commonly thought to be Parkinson's disease and has undergone several operations that have reduced his mobility. While Vatican officials have acknowledged that the Pope has been slowed physically by his ailments, they have strongly denied that it has affected his mind or his ability to fulfil the demands of the papacy.
Almost all popes have served until their death, although canon law does allow a pope to resign. Pope John Paul, who led a heavy schedule of Jubilee activities last year, has given no indication that he intends to resign.