The Vatican said Wednesday that Pope Francis has been admitted to a hospital in Rome after complaining of breathing difficulties in recent days, and have cancelled his meetings for the next two days. The Pope had appeared in relatively good form during his scheduled general audience Wednesday, though he noticeably grimaced while getting into and out of the “popemobile.” Francis’ audiences through Friday were canceled, and questions remained about the pope’s ability to participate in the Vatican’s Holy Week activities.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said the pontiff is being treated at the Gemelli hospital, where Francis underwent surgery in 2021. Bruni said in a statement: “In recent days Pope Francis has complained of some breathing difficulties,” adding that Covid-19 had been ruled out by the tests but the pope would “require a few days of appropriate hospital medical therapy.” Bruni confirmed that testing at the hospital had determined that Pope Francis has a respiratory infection, and concluded: “Pope Francis is touched by the many messages received and expresses his gratitude for the closeness and prayers.”
Francis had part of one lung removed when he was a young man due to a respiratory infection; and he spent 10 days at the Gemelli hospital following the 2021 surgery for an intestinal narrowing, which included the removal of 13 inches of his colon. He had also been using a wheelchair for over a year due to strained ligaments in his right knee and a small knee fracture. The Pope has said he resisted having surgery for the knee problems because he didn’t respond well to the general anesthesia during the 2021 intestinal surgery; but. now has said the knee injury was healing and he has been shown walking more with a cane of late.
Francis is due to celebrate Palm Sunday this weekend, kicking off the Vatican’s Holy Week observances: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and finally Easter Sunday on April 9.
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