ROME – Although he was forced to cancel a scheduled trip to Dubai this week due to health concerns, Pope Francis kept a busy schedule Thursday, with nine separate appointments, despite receiving ongoing antibiotic treatment for a flu causing lung inflammation.
In a statement Wednesday night, the Vatican said that the pope’s condition is “stable” and that “he does not have a fever, but the pulmonary inflammation associated with difficulty breathing persists. He continues antibiotic therapy.”
Pope Francis was scheduled to visit Dubai Dec. 1-3 for the COP28 United Nations Climate Summit, but cancelled the trip Tuesday upon medical advice for his doctors.
While a CT scan conducted Saturday ruled out pneumonia, it showed lung inflammation which has made the pontiff short of breath and unable to read lengthy prepared speeches, despite not having a fever and showing mild improvement.
His struggles have not slowed Francis down, however, as he had a busy morning Thursday, beginning with a meeting with the presidency of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), including its president Bishop William Terrence McGrattan of Calgary, the vice-president, Bishop Pierre Goudreault of Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière, and the secretary general, Father Jean Vézina.
He also met members of the International Theological Commission, handing them his prepared speech and offering some brief, off-the-cuff remarks, telling them, “There’s a nice speech here with theological things, but as I am, it’s better not to read it.”
Pope Francis thanked the commission for their work but lamented that there were only five women present and suggested that more to be appointed, indicating that at an upcoming meeting with the new cardinals “we will have a reflection on the feminine dimension of the church.”
As he has done in the past, the pope highlighted Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar’s teaching on the Petrine and Marian principles in the church, insisting that “the Marian is more important than the Petrine, because the church is a bride, the church is a woman.”
Francis said there is a habit of “masculinizing” the church, which is a problem he said “cannot be resolved through the ministerial way, this is another thing. It is resolved through the mystical path, the real path.”
Not only must more women be appointed to the commission, the pope said, but members must also “de-masculinize the church. And thank you for what you do.”
Pope Francis then met Archbishop Dieudonné Datonou, apostolic nuncio in Burundi; Princess Ketevan Bagration of Mukhrani, the ambassador of Georgia to the Holy See, in a farewell visit; Father Gustavo Luis Boquin, vice rector of the Catholic University of Argentina; Father Federico Lombardi, president of the Ratzinger Foundation, with recipients of this year’s “Ratzinger Prize”; participants in a seminar titled, “Ethics in health management”; and members of the World Youth Day Lisbon 2023 Foundation and Committee.
He also met with Bishop Heiner Wilmer of Hildesheim, an avid supporter of the German church’s Synodal Path and its controversial proposals for reform who was once rumored to be the pope’s top pick as the new head of the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, until the appointment of Argentine Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández to the post in July.
In his meeting with members of the World Youth Day Lisbon 2023 Foundation and Committee, Francis offered a brief off-the-cuff greeting thanking them for their work and recalling various people he met during the August gathering, but had someone else read his speech for him, saying, “I can’t talk much.”
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