Pope Francis, 86, was taken to a hospital in Rome on Wednesday with a respiratory infection that will require a few days of treatment, according to the Vatican.
In a statement, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said, “In recent days, Pope Francis has complained of some breathing difficulties.”
The pontiff was admitted to Rome’s Gemelli hospital for medical examinations, which showed “a respiratory infection… that will require a few days of appropriate hospital medical treatment,” according to Bruni, who added that a Covid-19 infection had been ruled out.
The Vatican announced earlier in the afternoon that Francis had been admitted “for some previously scheduled checks.”
The pope, who is celebrating his tenth year as the head of the Catholic Church, had earlier looked cheerful at his weekly audience at the Vatican, smiling as he welcomed the faithful from his “popemobile.”
He was seen grimacing as he was assisted into the vehicle, and Italian media claimed that he was taken to hospital by ambulance.
According to Bruni’s statement, “Pope Francis is touched by the many messages received and expresses his gratitude for the closeness and prayer.”
According to a Vatican source, the pope’s meetings for Thursday morning have been canceled.
The Argentine Pope has chronic knee pain that has compelled him to use a wheelchair in recent months.
The Gemelli was the same facility where he had a colon operation in July 2021 after suffering from a variety of diverticulitis, an inflammation of pockets that form in the intestine lining.
He was hospitalized for ten days. He admitted a year later that he was still experiencing the effects of the six hours he spent under anaesthesia during the surgery.
Francis stated in a January interview that the diverticulitis had resurfaced.
– Speculation –
Pope Francis had to cancel or curtail activities several times last year because of the pain in his knee and in a July 2022 interview acknowledged that he needed to slow down.
His health has been the frequent subject of speculation, particularly the question of whether he will follow the example set by his predecessor and retire if he cannot continue.
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