Pope Francis to stay in hospital for several days over respiratory infection

·2 min read
Pope Francis arrives at Commonwealth Stadium to give an open-air mass on July 26, 2022 (Getty Images)
Pope Francis arrives at Commonwealth Stadium to give an open-air mass on July 26, 2022 (Getty Images)

Pope Francis has a respiratory infection and will need to spend “a few days” in hospital for treatment after suffering from difficulties breathing in the last few days, the Vatican said in a statement.

Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni says Francis, 86, does not have Covid-19 but requires several days of therapy.

He said that Francis had been suffering some breathing trouble in recent days and went to the Gemelli hospital for tests.

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

Francis had part of one lung removed when he was a young man due to a respiratory infection, and he often speaks in a whisper.

But he got through the worst phases of the Covid-19 pandemic without at least any public word of ever testing positive.

Francis had been 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 audiences through Friday, but it wasn’t clear whether he could keep the Holy Week plans.

Pope Francis holds his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 29, 2023 (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Pope Francis holds his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 29, 2023 (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Francis has used a wheelchair for over a year due to strained ligaments in his right knee and a small knee fracture. He has said the injury was healing and been walking more with a cane of late.

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

He said soon after the surgery that he had recovered fully and could eat normally.

But in a January 24 interview with The Associated Press, Francis said his diverticulosis, or bulges in the intestinal wall, had “returned.”

Just weeks ago, Pope Francis said that he would retire if he became too tired to effectively continue in the role.

Asked what could prompt him to resign by the Italian media, he warned of a “fatigue that makes you not see things clearly”.

Additional reporting by agencies