DENVER – In the latest health scare for a pontiff who will turn 87 next month, the Vatican announced Saturday that Pope Francis had cancelled his meetings for the day due to a “slight flu-like condition,” and later added that he had visited Rome’s Gemelli Hospital for a CAT scan to rule out pneumonia.
The pope’s calendar for Saturday was supposed to include a meeting with Umaro Sissoco Embaló, the president of Guinea Bissau.
Later in the afternoon the Vatican sent a brief communique saying that in the “in the early hours of the afternoon Pope Francis underwent a CAT scan” at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital “to exclude the risk of pulmonary complications.”
According to the statement, the scan “gave a negative result” for any complications and the pope then returned to his residence.
Concern over any form of respiratory disease for Pope Francis, who is missing part of one lung, spiked earlier this year when he was hospitalized with bronchitis, saying afterwards that it had been a close call.
In late April Francis was rushed to the Gemelli Hospital following his weekly general audience when he experienced breathing difficulties. He was diagnosed with bronchitis and was administered intravenous antibiotics before being released three days later.
Respiratory diseases are particularly alarming for Pope Francis, as he had part of one lung removed as a young Jesuit due to a serious bout of pneumonia.
Following April’s hospital stay, the pope was admitted to the Gemelli Hospital again in June for surgery on an abdominal hernia and he continues to suffer from other milder maladies, such as ongoing sciatica and knee troubles.
On Nov. 6 the pontiff opted not to give his speech to a delegation of the Conference of European Rabbis, citing ill health, greeting them each individually instead.
However, he gave each of the rest of his five speeches that day and appeared to be in good form, raising questions as to whether his decision to skip the speech to rabbis was potentially a political maneuver given the ongoing war in Gaza.
Francis, who has maintained a busy travel schedule this year despite his various hospital stays, is expected to travel to Dubai from Dec. 1-3 for the COP28 United Nations climate summit.
So far the Vatican has not indicated any change of plans, and the pope is expected to make the trip as scheduled. The pontiff is also expected to deliver his usual noontime Angelus address on Sunday.
Follow Elise Ann Allen on X: @eliseannallen