Pope's health improving; he keeps some appointments

Pope Francis, who is recovering from pulmonary inflammation, exchanges gifts with Paraguay's President Santiago Peña Palacios and his wife, Leticia Ocampos Villate, in the Domus Sanctae Marthae at the Vatican Nov. 27, 2023. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) ─ Pope Francis is breathing easier after undergoing intravenous antibiotic treatment for pulmonary inflammation, the director of the Vatican press office said.

"The pope's condition is good and stable; he has no fever, and his respiratory situation is clearly improving," Matteo Bruni, the director, said in a statement Nov. 27.

Early Nov. 25 Pope Francis canceled his day's meetings because of "flu-like" symptoms and that afternoon he went to Rome's Gemelli Isola Hospital for a CT scan of his lungs.

"The CT scan ruled out pneumonia, but showed pulmonary inflammation that was causing some respiratory difficulties," Bruni said Nov. 27. "For more effective treatment, a needle cannula was placed for the infusion of intravenous antibiotic therapy."

The IV access was visible on the pope's right hand Nov. 26 as he sat next to an aide in the chapel of his residence for the midday recitation of the Angelus.

In a direct broadcast to St. Peter's Square, where thousands of people were waiting for the customary Sunday appointment, the 86-year-old Pope Francis told them, "Today I cannot come to the window because I have this inflammation problem in my lungs."

The aide, Msgr. Paolo Braida, read the pope's commentary on the Sunday Gospel reading and the pope's appeals for peace and greetings to groups of pilgrims present in the square.

But the pope led the recitation of the Angelus prayer and took the microphone back at the end to wish people a happy Sunday and to ask for their prayers.

In the text read by Msgr. Braida, Pope Francis also asked for prayers for his trip to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 1-3 to address COP28, the U.N. climate change conference.

Bruni said that "to facilitate the pope's recovery, some important engagements scheduled for these days have been postponed" to a date when he can "devote the desired time and energy to them."

Other appointments, "of an institutional nature or easier to support given his current health condition, have been maintained," Bruni said.

And, in fact, Pope Francis met early Nov. 27 with Paraguay's President Santiago Peña Palacios, his wife and entourage. The pope and president spent 25 minutes speaking privately in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the pope's residence. Vatican Media photos of the pope blessing the president show that the IV access had already been removed.

The pope, who will celebrate his 87th birthday Dec. 17, had undergone surgery in 1957 to remove part of one of his lungs after suffering a severe respiratory infection. He has insisted the operation has had no lasting impact on his health.

Pope Francis was hospitalized March 29-April 1 for what doctors said was a "respiratory infection." He tested negative for COVID-19 at the time.



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