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Letter #81, 2023 Wed Mar 29: Francis in the Hospital

    Pope Francis To Spend Night In Hospital; News Orgs On Alert Amid Developing Story (link)

    By Melanie Goodfellow

    Pope Francis was admitted to Rome’s Gemelli Hospital on Wednesday amid conflicting reports about his reason for being there, although his condition is reported not to be “worrying”.

    The Vatican put out a short statement mid-afternoon saying the 86-year-old pontiff had been admitted for scheduled checks and that his diary had been cleared for Thursday and Friday.

    However, the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera later reported that he had arrived at the hospital in an ambulance, following heart and breathing problems after his traditional Wednesday Saint Peter’s Square address, which led him to cancel a scheduled TV interview.

    The report added that the pontiff’s condition was not considered “worrying” but that he was undergoing further medical checks and would be kept in overnight.

    Uncertainty over the situation has put news orgs worldwide on high alert as they monitor the situation.

    Pope Francis’s late predecessor Pope Benedict XVI voluntarily stepped down at the age of 85 in 2013, citing his deteriorating mental and physical strength. He died at the age of 95 in December 2022.

    Pope Francis, who underwent colon surgery in 2021, has hinted he could take a similar course of action if his health began to fail him.

    [End Deadline article]

    Pope Francis in hospital with respiratory infection (link)

    By Davide Ghiglione & Alys Daviesin Rome and London

    Pope Francis has a respiratory infection and will need to spend “a few days” in hospital in Rome, the Vatican has said.

    The pontiff had breathing difficulties in recent days but does not have Covid, the statement added.

    His closest staff, including security, were expected to stay the night at the Gemelli Hospital, a person with direct knowledge told the BBC earlier.

    A source earlier said medical checks would continue as long as necessary.

    Previously, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said the Pope was taken to hospital for “some previously scheduled checks”.

    The updated statement said the infection would “require a few days of appropriate hospital medical therapy”.

    “Pope Francis is touched by the many messages received and expresses his gratitude for the closeness and prayer,” it added.

    This is the busiest time of the year for Pope Francis, 86, with many events and services scheduled ahead of Easter weekend.

    A Palm Sunday Mass is scheduled this weekend, and Holy Week and Easter celebrations next week.

    He is also scheduled to visit Hungary at the end of April.

    On Wednesday morning, he presided over his weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square. Though he looked to be in good spirits, he was seen grimacing as he was helped with getting into his vehicle, AFP news agency reports.

    The pontiff has suffered from mobility problems related to his knee in recent months, forcing him to use a wheelchair.

    He also underwent surgery to treat a colon problem at the same hospital in Rome in 2021. In January he said the condition had returned.

    Despite his ailments, the Pope has remained active and has undertaken trips abroad this year. He visited the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan in February.

    In January, the Pope led the funeral of his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI – who was the first pope to step down voluntarily for centuries. He said this was due to ill health.

    Pope Francis has previously indicated that he may also wish to follow in Benedict’s footsteps in the event that his health deteriorated.

    [End BBC article]