Pope Francis will spend several days in hospital for treatment for a respiratory infection that has caused breathing difficulties, the Vatican said in a statement on March 29.
The Vatican said the 86-year-old pope, who had part of one lung removed as a young man, had complained of breathing difficulties in recent days and was taken to Policlinico A. Gemelli, a general hospital in Rome, Italy, following his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.
Testing has ruled out COVID-19, the statement said.
“In recent days Pope Francis complained of some respiratory difficulties and this afternoon he went to Policlinico A. Gemelli for some medical checks,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement.
“The outcome of these [tests] showed a respiratory infection (excluding Covid-19 infection) that will 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,” Bruni added.
The Pope is more prone to respiratory problems due to part of one of his lungs being removed when he was in his early 20s following a respiratory infection, and he often speaks in a whisper.
Pope Francis has also been using a wheelchair for more than a year due to strained ligaments in his right knee and a small knee fracture. He has said the injury was healing and has been seen walking more with a cane in recent months.
Despite his ongoing health issues, the Pope has maintained an active schedule, visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan in February.
He also appeared in relatively good spirits during his regularly scheduled general audience in St. Peter’s Square earlier Wednesday, although he could be seen grimacing and appeared to struggle while getting in and out of his vehicle.
Wednesday’s hospitalization of the Pope marks the first time he has had to undergo medical treatment since he spent 10 days at the Gemelli hospital in July 2021 to have 13 inches (33 centimeters) of his colon removed.
In January, he said the condition, known as diverticulosis—a digestive condition that affects the large intestine— had returned.
There are now concerns regarding his overall health ahead of what is set to be a busy few weeks for the pontiff, beginning this weekend with Palm Sunday ahead of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday on April 9.
He is also scheduled to visit Hungary at the end of April for a trip that is widely expected to focus on migration to Europe and Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Pope Francis has canceled all audiences through Friday but there has not yet been any comment regarding the Holy Week plans.
Pope Shares Condolences After Nashville Shooting
Speaking during a press conference on Wednesday, President Joe Biden asked people to make an “extra prayer” for the Pope’s recovery, describing the pontiff as one of the “most Christ-like figures I’ve ever met.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the Vatican said that Pope had sent a message to the Bishop of Nashville to convey “his heartfelt condolences and the assurance of his prayers to all affected by this senseless act of violence,” following the shooting of six people at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee.
Police identified the shooter as 28-year-old Audrey Elizabeth Hale who they said had attended the school years prior.
She allegedly killed three children and three adults at the school after planning the massacre by drawing out a detailed map of the building, which included potential entry points, and conducting surveillance of the building, police said.
Pope Francis said he joins “the entire community in mourning the children and adults who died and commends them to the loving embrace of the Lord Jesus.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times