ROME — Pope Francis showed “marked improvement” on Thursday after being given intravenous antibiotics for a bronchitis infection and could be discharged from hospital in the coming days, the Vatican and its doctors reported.
The 86-year-old pope, who had part of a lung removed as a young man, ate breakfast, read the papers, rested and worked in his sickroom at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital, according to Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni.
An additional update provided by doctors late Thursday revealed that Francis had been diagnosed with bronchitis. The infection “required the administration of an infusion-based antibiotic regimen, which showed the expected effects with a marked improvement in his health,” the doctors’ statement said.
“Based on the expected course of events, the Holy Father could be released in the coming days,” it concluded.
The time frame called into question Francis’ attendance at Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square this weekend, as well as his presence during Holy Week activities. These include Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday on April 9th.
Francis was rushed to hospital on Wednesday after struggling to breathe for the past few days.
PHOTOS: Vatican: Pope has good night in hospital despite infection
It was the first time he returned to Gemelli since having 33 centimeters (13 inches) of his colon removed and spending 10 days there in July 2021.
Despite his absence, the Holy See was buzzing with activity on Thursday: two Vatican offices issued a historic statement rejecting the “doctrine of discovery,” the legal theory supported by papal bulls dating back to the 15th century underpinning some property laws today.
And there have been ongoing arguments over the sudden resignation of a founding member of the papal commission on the prevention of sexual abuse, with Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley countering criticism from Rev. Hans Zollner in his remarkable resignation statement released the day before.
He said shortly after the colon surgery that he had made a full recovery and was able to eat normally. But in a Jan. 24 interview with The Associated Press, Francis said his diverticulosis, or bulge in the intestinal wall, had “returned.”
Francis has been using a wheelchair for over a year due to sprained ligaments in his right knee and a minor fracture in his knee, although he has been walking with a cane more recently.
Francis has said he resisted surgery for knee problems because he didn’t respond well to general anesthesia during the 2021 bowel surgery.
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