Published On: Mon, Nov 27th, 2023

Pope Francis cancels meetings because of breathing difficulties, Vatican says

ROME — Pope Francis postponed a series of meetings because of a lung inflammation and breathing difficulties, the Vatican said Monday morning.

Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office, said in an emailed statement that a CT scan ruled out pneumonia but added that doctors had inserted a cannula to provide antibiotics. The pope lost part of a lung following an illness some 50 years ago.

Francis, the first pope from the Americas, turns 87 next month and has battled ill health for years, canceling multiple engagements and appearing in public in a wheelchair. But Bruni’s statement stressed: “The Pope’s condition is good and stationary, he has no fever and his respiratory situation is clearly improving.”

Pope Francis has breathing difficulties caused by lung inflammation, Vatican says
Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday. Andreas Solaro / AFP – Getty Images

A papal aide, Father Paolo Braida, read the pope’s normal Sunday message, while Francis remained seated next to him. The pope sounded short of breath, coughed at one point and appeared in poor health.

“Dear brothers and sisters. Happy Sunday. Today, I cannot appear at the window because I have this problem of an inflammation in the lungs,” Francis said in the statement.

Some “important engagements” were postponed, Bruni said, while those of an internal administrative nature, or those easier to attend to, would be fulfilled.

On Monday, Francis received the president of Paraguay, Santiago Peña Palacios, at the Vatican as scheduled.

The pope has remained a high-profile voice throughout the Israel-Gaza war, repeatedly calling for a humanitarian cease-fire. “We pray that they all may be [freed] as rapidly as possible and that more humanitarian aid arrives in Gaza and that they insist on dialogue,” his Sunday message said. The message also called for peace in Ukraine.

The Vatican said Saturday that the pope’s audience was canceled because of a “mild flu.”

Francis had surgery in June this year to treat a hernia and remove painful scarring from previous operations. When a reporter asked him how he was when leaving the hospital, he replied: “Still alive.”

In 2021, he had a 13-inch section of his bowel removed because of narrowing of his intestines.


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