Pope Francis on his way to his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican on March 29, 2023.
Alessia Pierdomenico | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Pope Francis’ health is improving after being hospitalized with a respiratory infection and he has returned to work while treatment continues, the Vatican said on Thursday.
The pope was unexpectedly rushed to hospital on Wednesday after complaining of breathing difficulties, raising fresh concerns over the health of the 86-year-old pope, who is suffering from a range of ailments.
“His Holiness Pope Francis had a good rest during the night. His condition is gradually improving and he is continuing his planned treatment,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement.
“This morning after breakfast he read some newspapers and went back to work,” he added. The statement noted that Francis was not bedridden. He prayed in the small chapel in his private hospital suite.
“I am touched by the many messages that have come in these hours and I thank you for the closeness and prayer,” the pope wrote separately on Twitter.
Francis this month marked his 10th anniversary as Pope.
Bruni did not say when Francis could leave Gemelli Hospital in Rome. The Vatican said Wednesday it expects to spend “a few days” there.
Italian news agency ANSA previously reported that nursing staff were “very optimistic” that barring any surprises, the pope would arrive in time for Palm Sunday celebrations on March 2.
It was not clear if the pope, who leads the world’s nearly 1.4 billion Catholics, would be able to attend the various services even if he were fired by the weekend.
Last year, the pope attended some Easter services but did not lead them because of his knee pain. If the same thing happened again, a cardinal would be appointed to conduct the services. If the Pope is fit, he could watch the action from a chair.
ANSA, citing unnamed hospital sources, said doctors had ruled out heart problems and pneumonia for Francis “for now.” The Vatican has also said it does not have COVID-19.
Francis is sometimes short of breath and generally more prone to breathing problems. He had part of a lung removed in his early 20s while training to be a priest in his native Argentina.
The Pope also suffers from diverticulitis, a condition that can infect or inflame the colon, and underwent surgery at Gemelli Hospital in 2021 to remove part of his colon.
He said in January that the condition had returned and that it had caused him to gain weight, but that he was not overly concerned. He didn’t elaborate.
He also has a problem with his right knee and alternates between using a walking stick and a wheelchair in his public appearances.
His recent hospitalization has sparked speculation about a possible resignation on health grounds following the historical precedent of his predecessor Benedict XVI, who died in December.
However, Francis has indicated that he would only follow suit if he were seriously incapacitated.
When asked by Italian Swiss television RSI in an interview broadcast on March 12 what condition would make him quit, he said: “A tiredness that doesn’t let you see clearly. A lack of clarity, of assessing situations.”
Source : www.cnbc.com