Last Updated: March 30, 2023, 14:50 IST
Pope Francis helped to get on his car at the end of weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 29, 2023. (Associated Press)
Pope Francis has suffered a number of health issues in recent years but normally has a busy schedule and continues to travel widely
Pope Francis was hospitalized with a respiratory infection on Wednesday after having trouble breathing recently.
He spent a calm night in the hospital and is expected to remain there for a few days for treatment.
“The pope spent a good night” at Rome’s Gemelli hospital, a source told AFP, adding that there would be an update on the 86-year-old pontiff’s condition later.
Pope Francis, who had part of one lung removed as a young man, doesn’t have Covid-19, the Vatican said earlier on Wednesday.
Francis appeared in relatively good form during his regularly scheduled general audience earlier Wednesday. At his weekly audience at the Vatican earlier yesterday, the pope appeared in good spirits, smiling as he greeted the faithful in his popemobile.
Pope Francis, who earlier this month marked 10 years as head of the Catholic Church, has suffered a number of health issues in recent years but normally has a busy schedule and continues to travel widely.
Francis had part of one lung removed when he was a young man due to a respiratory infection, and he often speaks in a whisper.
Over the past year, the Pope has also suffered from chronic knee pain that has required him to use a wheelchair.
US President Joe Biden, at the start of an Oval Office meeting with President Alberto Fernández of Argentina, told reporters he had just learned of Francis’s health problems and said he was concerned about his dear “friend.”
Francis was admitted in July 2021 to the same Rome hospital for 10 days for an operation on his colon after suffering from a type of diverticulitis, an inflammation of pockets that develop in the lining of the intestine.
In an interview in January, Francis said the diverticulitis had returned.
Francis has repeatedly said, most recently in February, that he would consider stepping down if his health required, following the example of his predecessor Benedict XVI.
He has cautioned, however, that papal resignations should not be the norm, and said in an interview last month that the idea was currently not “on my agenda”.
In 1957, at age 21, Francis had part of one of his lungs removed, but he has said he has made a full recovery.
Despite his health issues and advancing age, Francis — a Jesuit who seems most happy being among his flock — continues to travel internationally.
Earlier this year, he visited South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, drawing huge crowds. Next month, he is due to visit Hungary and meet Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
In the past decade, Francis has sought to forge an image of a more open, compassionate Church, although has faced internal opposition, particularly from conservatives.
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