Pope Francis joked that “some people wanted me dead” and cardinals were already preparing to replace him after his colon surgery this summer, according to a media report Tuesday.
The 84-year-old pontiff made the comments during a meeting with fellow Jesuits in Bratislava on September 12, according to Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica.
Asked by one of those present how he was, Francis replied: “Still alive, even though some people wanted me dead.
“I know there were even meetings between prelates who thought the pope’s condition was more serious than what was said. They were preparing for the conclave. Ah well!”
When a pope dies or retires, cardinals meet in a secret conclave to elect his replacement from among their peers.
“Thank God, I’m well. Undergoing that surgery was a decision I didn’t want to take,” Francis continued.
“It was a nurse who convinced me. Nurses sometimes understand the situation more than doctors because they are in direct contact with the patients.”
Francis underwent an operation on July 4 after suffering from a type of diverticulitis, an inflammation of pockets that develop in the lining of the intestine. He was discharged from hospital after 10 days.
It is not the first time he has commented on rumors sparked by his health.
After media reports last month that he might step down, he told Spanish radio Cope that “it didn’t even cross my mind.”
Francis was in Bratislava as part of a four-day trip to Slovakia and Budapest.
The Argentine was elected pope in 2013 after the shock resignation of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who became the first pontiff since the Middle Ages to quit the role.