According to the Vatican, Pope Francis, 86, was brought to a hospital in Rome on Wednesday with a respiratory infection that will keep him there for a few days.
“In recent days Pope Francis has complained of some breathing difficulties,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement.
The pontiff was admitted to Rome’s Gemelli hospital for medical checks, which revealed “a respiratory infection… that will require a few days of appropriate hospital medical treatment,” Bruni said.
He said that Covid had been left out.
A Vatican source confirmed that the pope’s commitments on Thursday were postponed, and others are likely to do the same at this hectic time leading up to the essential Christian holiday of Easter.
At a Wednesday Greek Independence Day reception at the White House, Joe Biden—only the second Catholic president in US history—implored guests to “say an extra prayer” for the pope.
Francis, who celebrated his tenth anniversary as head of the Catholic Church earlier this month, underwent colon surgery in July 2021 and required 10 days in the Gemelli hospital.
Although he travels extensively, he has experienced knee problems that have compelled him to use a wheelchair.
“Pope Francis is touched by the many messages received and expresses his gratitude for the closeness and prayer,” Bruni added.
The pope seemed upbeat and smiled as he greeted the faithful in his popemobile during his weekly Vatican meeting on Wednesday.
He was observed frowning as he was escorted into the car.
Several media representatives gathered outside the hospital late Wednesday, where the late pope John Paul II statue is near the entrance.
The pope had been admitted for what the Vatican initially stated in the middle of the day as “previously scheduled checks.”
The pontiff underwent surgery in 2021 due to diverticulitis, an infection that causes pockets in the gut lining.
He acknowledged a year later that he was still dealing with the aftereffects of the surgery’s six hours of anesthesia.
Francis claimed that the diverticulitis had reappeared in a January interview.
On Wednesday, the Italian Bishops’ Conference sent a letter asking for prayers for the pope’s “rapid recovery.”
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Pope Francis confessed that he needed to slow down in a July 2022 interview after canceling or limiting activities many times last year due to knee problems.
His health has frequently been the focus of rumors, whether he will follow his predecessor’s lead and step down if he cannot continue.
An accomplished German theologian named Benedict XVI startled the world in 2013 when he announced his resignation as the first pope since the Middle Ages.
Before Benedict’s passing on December 31, the two “men in white” coexisted within the boundaries of the tiny Vatican state for almost ten years.
Francis declared that if his health prevented him from doing his duties, he would follow Benedict and resign.
However, he told an interviewer in February that papal resignations should not become “a normal thing,” adding that, for the moment, it was not on his agenda.
Francis keeps traveling despite his growing age and health issues.
His recent visits to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo were received by sizable crowds, which is evidence of his enduring popularity.
He is scheduled to travel to Hungary next month to meet with Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
He has been working to create an image of a more accepting, compassionate Church during the last ten years, but he has encountered internal resistance, notably from conservatives.
After being diagnosed with pleurisy and having a portion of his lungs removed at age 21, Francis nearly died.
He has since insisted he made “a complete recovery… and never felt any limitation since then”.
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For almost 4 years, Jason Martin has been a freelance writer for newspapers, journals, blogs, books, and online material. He covers the most recent news as well as many other topics.