Pope Francis told journalists on a plane back from South Korea he might have only two or three years left to live, the Daily Mail reported.
On the plane trip back to the Vatican, he told journalists he believed he only had limited time left to complete his reforms of the Roman Catholic Church.
In response to how he deals with his popularity, he said he tries to remember the sins and mistakes he has committed to try and cope with his popularity, “so as not to think I am some-body important.”
“Because I know this is going to last a short time, two or three years and then… to the house of the Father,” he said.
Despite his health problems, the Pope has kept a busy schedule since his election in March 2013.
The 77-year-old has previously told those close to him that he thought he only had a few years left, a Vatican source told the British daily.
The pontiff has also revealed that he would consider retiring the papacy if he felt he could no longer perform his duties.
“If you asked me if, in the future, I felt I could not go forward, would I do the same [on the resignation of his predecessor]? I would do the same. Benedict has opened a door,” Francis said on board the papal plane.
He also said his advisers have been encouraging him to rest more after he cancelled a series of engagements earlier in this year.
In June, he cancelled a visit to the Gemelli Hospital in Rome due to a “sudden ailment,” explaining to Catholic television station TV2000 “we are not masters of our own lives, we cannot arrange things to suit us. We have to accept fragility.”
Trips to a shrine in February and a seminary in May were also cancelled.
He told his advisers to clear his schedule so he could rest after his trip, cancelling an engagement near Rome.
Separately, Pope Francis’ two great-nephews, aged two and eight months, died in a car accident on Monday along with their 39-year-old mother.
“The Pope was informed about the tragic accident. He is deeply pained,” Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said.
It is reported that the car collided with a truck in the Cordoba region of Argentina, north-east of Buenos Aires.