Addressing journalists on his return from his intense five-day visit to South Korea late August 18, Pope Francis bantered with reporters and lightheartedly said he may only have “two or three” years left to live.
The 77-year-old pontiff covered a range of topics on the flight back to the Vatican—from war-torn Iraq and his desire to visit the U.S. next year to his personal health, hinting he may retire early.
He was asked how he lived with the immense popularity he has generated around the world, evident when crowds chanted his name on the streets of Rio de Janeiro during his first official visit to Brazil last year.
“I try to think of my sins, my mistakes, so as not to think that I am somebody,” he said. “Because I know this will last a short time, two or three years, and then (go) to the house of the Father,” he said during an in-flight media conference.