Wednesday, March 29, 2023
Catholic News Service - Catholic News Service
UPDATE APRIL 1, 2023
By Cindy Wooden
ROME (CNS-OSVNews) | "I'm still alive," Pope Francis joked to reporters who asked how he was doing as he left Rome's Gemelli hospital April 1.
The 86-year-old pope, who had been hospitalized since March 29 for treatment of bronchitis, stopped his car and got out to greet well-wishers and reporters waiting outside the hospital.
He embraced a sobbing mother, whose daughter had died the night before. He reached out to the father, too, and holding their hands, he prayed with them. The pope then traced a cross on the forehead of each of them and gave them both a kiss on the cheek.
Reporters present said he also signed the cast of a boy who said he broke his arm playing soccer.
Before returning to the Vatican, he stopped to pray at the Basilica of St. Mary Major, a stop he makes before and after every trip abroad and a stop he also made in July 2021 after undergoing colon surgery at the Gemelli.
"Pausing before the icon of Mary, 'Salus Populi Romani,' he prayerfully entrusted to her the children he met yesterday in the hospital's pediatric oncology and children's neurosurgery wards, all the sick and those suffering from illness and the loss of their loved ones," the Vatican press office said.
When greeting the reporters outside the hospital, Pope Francis told them, "I know some of you spent the night here — that's too much. But thank you, thank you for your work of keeping people informed."
A reporter for CNN asked the pope if he was frightened March 29 when he experienced difficulty breathing, which was the explanation the Vatican gave for why he went to the hospital.
The pope shook his head and said the question reminded him of something "an old man, older than me, told me in a similar situation: 'Father, I have not seen death, but I've seen it coming and it's ugly.'"
The CNN correspondent also noted that the pope did not spend his whole time in the hospital resting, but visited children in the cancer ward and even baptized an infant who was at the hospital for tests.
"But that's the most beautiful thing, you know," he responded. "I'm a priest. The most beautiful thing is being a priest."
While in the hospital, the pope was treated with intravenous antibiotics for his bronchitis; the Vatican said he tested negative for COVID-19.
Confirming what Matteo Bruni, head of the Vatican press office, had said, Pope Francis told reporters he would be at Palm Sunday Mass April 2 in St. Peter's Square.
He also told the reporters to get some sleep before the Holy Week liturgies begin.
UPDATE March 31, 2023
ROME (CNS-OSVNews) | The medical team at Rome's Gemelli hospital, after evaluating the results of Pope Francis' latest tests, confirmed he can be discharged April 1.
The 86-year-old pope had been showing continued and "marked" improvement for what tests revealed was a case of bronchitis, after he was admitted to the hospital the afternoon of March 29 for breathing difficulties. The pope was treated with intravenous antibiotics for the respiratory infection that was not COVID-19.
Pope Francis used his final full day in the hospital, March 31, to visit children hospitalized in the oncology ward and to confer the sacrament of baptism on a tiny infant named Miguel Angel. The pope wrote out by hand the baptismal certificate as seen in another image, which also showed the pope's left wrist wrapped in gauze and an elastic bandage.
The evening before, the pope enjoyed a pizza "party" with staff on his second night at Rome's Gemelli hospital. Matteo Bruni, head of the press office, confirmed the 86-year-old pope's "presence" at the Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square April 2.
Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, dean of the College of Cardinals, said, “With the pope at each celebration, there will be a cardinal celebrant who will be at the altar,” the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica reported March 31.
According to Cardinal Re, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri will be the main celebrant at the Palm Sunday Mass and Cardinal Re will be the main celebrant at Easter morning Mass, although the pope will read his traditional message and give his blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world).
ORIGINAL STORY: March 29, 2023
By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS-OSVNews) | After having difficulty breathing, Pope Francis went to Rome's Gemelli hospital March 29 where he was diagnosed with a respiratory infection that will be treated in the hospital for several days, the Vatican press office said.
In the past few days, the statement said, "Pope Francis complained of some respiratory difficulties and this afternoon he went to Agostino Gemelli Polyclinic for some medical tests. The outcome of these showed a respiratory infection — a COVID-19 infection was excluded — that will require several days of appropriate medical treatment in the hospital."
"Pope Francis is touched by the many messages he's received and expresses his gratitude for the closeness and prayer," the press office said.
About six hours earlier the press office had said the pope was at the hospital for "previously planned tests."
Before acknowledging the pope would be hospitalized for a few days, a Vatican official said audiences with the pope scheduled for March 30 and 31 had been canceled "to make room in his agenda for the tests to continue" if needed.
Several Italian media outlets and the Rome correspondent for the Argentine newspaper La Nación reported, however, that Pope Francis was taken to Gemelli by ambulance.
La Nación said that "a source close" to the pope told the newspaper that after his weekly general audience that morning, the pope began to feel chest pain and was advised to go to the hospital immediately.
The Gemelli hospital, part of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, keeps a suite of rooms reserved for the popes on its 10th floor.
In a late January interview with the Associated Press, Pope Francis had said that the diverticulitis, or bulges in his intestinal wall, had "returned," but he insisted he was in good health for his age, which is 86.
Pope Francis had spent 10 days in Gemelli hospital in July 2021 after undergoing a three-hour surgery that included a left hemicolectomy, which is the removal of the descending part of the colon, a surgery that can be recommended to treat diverticulitis.
Three days after surgery, the Vatican said, "the final histological examination has confirmed a severe diverticular stenosis with signs of sclerosing diverticulitis," a hardening of the tissue. The statement seemed to indicate that the biopsy showed no cancerous cells, although it did not say so explicitly, and rumors began.
Interviewed by the Reuters news agency in July 2022, the pope was asked about rumors that doctors had found cancer.
According to Reuters, Pope Francis laughed and said: "They didn't tell me about it. They didn't tell me."
But, really, he said, "they explained everything to me well — full stop."
The cancer rumor, he said, "is court gossip. The court spirit is still there in the Vatican. And if you think about it, the Vatican is the last European court of an absolute monarchy."
In 1957, at the age of 20, Pope Francis was hospitalized after being misdiagnosed with the flu. In the book, "Let us Dream," written with Austen Ivereigh, the pope said, "Straightaway they took a liter and a half of water out of the lung, and I remained there fighting for my life. The following November they operated to take out the upper right lobe of one of the lungs."
While the pope can sometimes be heard breathing heavily, he has insisted the surgery had no lasting impact on his health.
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