Pope Francis has been admitted to a Rome hospital for some previously scheduled tests, slipping out of the Vatican after his general audience as his spokesman said he may have to stay overnight. The Holy Father was last in the Gemelli hospital in Rome in 2021 for some intestinal surgery, from which he is believed to have recovered.
The Vatican provided no details, including how long the 86-year-old pope would remain at the Gemelli hospital where he had intestinal surgery in 2021.
But a statement from spokesman Matteo Bruni suggested Francis could remain at least overnight, since he only arrived in the afternoon.
“The Holy Father has been at Gemelli since this afternoon for some previously scheduled checkups,” read the one-line statement.
Francis is due to celebrate Palm Sunday this weekend, which begins a busy series of ceremonies at the Vatican the following week.
These include: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and finally Easter Sunday on April 9.
The pope spent 10 days at the Gemelli hospital in July 2021 following surgery for an intestinal narrowing. He had 33 centimetres (13 inches) of his colon removed.
He said soon after that he had recovered fully and could eat normally. But in a January interview, Francis said the diverticulosis, or bulges in his intestinal wall, had “returned.”
Francis has also been using a wheelchair for over a year for strained ligaments in his right knee, and then a small fracture in his knee.
He has said the injury is healing, and he has been walking more with a cane of late.
He has said he resisted having surgery for the knee problems because he didn’t respond well to the general anaesthesia during the 2021 intestinal surgery.
The Pope said earlier this month that he may step down if he becomes too tired to continue in the role.
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Asked by Italian media what would lead the him to resign, the Pope warned of ‘a fatigue that makes you not see things clearly… A lack of clarity when it comes to knowing how to assess situations.’
He said that he was ‘a bit ashamed’ to use a wheelchair due to a knee injury.
‘I am old,’ he told RSI. ‘I have less physical resistance, the knee [problem] was a physical humiliation, even if the recovery is going well now.’
Last month, the Pope said that papal resignations should happen in exceptional circumstances, and said quitting was not ‘on [his] agenda’.
Pope Francis has been head of the Catholic Church since March 2013 and recently marked a decade of his papacy.
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