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Church

Vatican: Pope Has Good Night in Hospital despite Infection

ROME — Pope Francis spent a good first night in the hospital after being admitted for a respiratory infection, a Vatican official said Thursday.

Further medical updates were expected later in the day. Francis was taken to Rome’s Gemelli hospital for tests on Wednesday afternoon after experiencing difficulty breathing in recent days.

The 86-year-old pope, who had part of one lung removed as a young man, does not have COVID-19 but will remain in the hospital for several days of treatment, the Vatican said. His audiences were canceled through Friday.

Francis is scheduled to celebrate Palm Sunday this weekend, and it wasn’t clear how his medical condition would affect the Vatican’s Holy Week observances, which include Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and finally Easter Sunday on April 9.

A statue of late Pope St. John Paul II is backdropped by the Agostino Gemelli hospital in Rome, Wednesday, March 29, 2023, after The Vatican said Pope Francis has been taken there in the afternoon for some scheduled tests. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

His hospitalization was the first since Francis had 33 centimeters (13 inches) of his colon removed and spent 10 days at the Gemelli hospital in July 2021.

He said soon after the surgery that he had recovered fully and could eat normally. But in a Jan. 24 interview with The Associated Press, Francis said his diverticulosis, or bulges in the intestinal wall, had “returned.”

Before he was admitted to the hospital Wednesday, the pope had appeared in relatively good form during his regularly scheduled general audience, though he grimaced strongly while getting in and out of the “popemobile.”

Francis has used a wheelchair for over a year due to strained ligaments in his right knee and a small knee fracture, though he had been walking more with a cane of late.

Francis has said he resisted having surgery for the knee problems because he didn’t respond well to general anesthesia during the 2021 intestinal surgery.

 

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