Pope Francis will be hospitalized for a few days with respiratory problems, the Vatican said

Pope Francis will be hospitalized for several days for treatment of a respiratory infection after experiencing difficulty breathing in recent days, the Vatican said on Wednesday.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said Francis, 86, does not have COVID-19 but needs several days of treatment.

“Pope Francis is touched by the many messages received and expresses his gratitude for the closeness and prayers,” Bruni said in a statement.

It was Francis’ first hospitalization 10 days passed In July 2021, 13 inches of his colon was removed at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital.

Pope Francis waves from the “Popemobile” to hold his weekly public audience from St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican on March 29, 2023.

Massimo Valichia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

This immediately raised questions about Francis’ overall health and his ability to celebrate the busy Holy Week events that begin this weekend with Palm Sunday.

Bruni said Francis had been suffering from shortness of breath in recent days and had gone to Gemelli for a check-up.

“The tests showed a respiratory infection (a COVID-19 infection is excluded) that would require a few days of medical treatment,” Bruni said.

Francis appeared in relatively good shape during his regularly scheduled public audience early Wednesday, although he frowned strongly as he got in and out of the “popemobile.”

Francis had part of a lung removed as a teenager due to a respiratory infection, and he often speaks in a whisper. But, he made it through the worst phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, at least testing positive without any public word.

Pope Francis completes 10 years of papacy

Francis was due to celebrate Palm Sunday this weekend, kicking off the Vatican’s Holy Week observances: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and finally Easter Sunday on April 9. He has canceled all visitors until Friday, but it is unclear. Can he stick to Holy Week plans?

used by Francis Wheelchair More than a year because of ligaments in his right knee and a minor knee fracture. He said that the injury is healing and progressing with a cane Late.

Francis has also said he was opposed to surgery for knee problems during his 2021 appendectomy because he did not respond well to general anesthesia.

He said that after the operation he has fully recovered and can eat normally. But in a Jan. 24 interview with The Associated Press, Francis said his diverticulosis, or inflammation of the intestinal wall, had “returned.”

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