ROME – After receiving a CAT-scan on his lungs yesterday, Pope Francis Sunday did not deliver his weekly Angelus address from the window of the papal apartment overlooking St. Peter’s Square but from a chapel inside his residence, citing ‘pulmonary inflammation’ and appearing with what seemed to be an IV in his hand.
Speaking to faithful gathered in the square on an unusually cold Roman day, and also those tuning in online, the pope said that “today I cannot come to the window because I have this problem of inflammation of the lungs.”
A Vatican official identified as Monsignor Paolo Luca Braida, head of office at the Secretariat of State, read the pontiff’s reflection on the day’s Gospel passage. He was seated next to the pontiff, who appeared to be short of breath.
Pope Francis at one point coughed, revealing what appeared to be an IV in the hand he lifted to cover his mouth, presumably for antibiotics.
The pope’s decision to recite his Angelus address from the chapel of the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse where he lives, which marks the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic that he has livestreamed the event rather than delivering it in person, came the day after he underwent a CAT-scan on his lungs.
On Saturday the Vatican issued a brief statement saying the pope had cancelled all of the day’s audiences due to a “mild flu.”
A second statement published later Saturday said Francis had gone to Rome’s Gemelli Hospital for a CAT-scan to rule out “pulmonary complications,” and that the scan “was negative.”
That statement appeared to contradict the pope’s remark about the inflammation of his lungs. A Vatican spokesman did not immediately respond to a Crux request for clarification.
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 March he 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 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.
During Sunday’s livestreamed Angelus address, Pope Francis confirmed plans to visit Dubai Dec. 1-3 for the COP28 United Nations climate summit despite his current condition.
Climate change, he said, “puts life on earth at risk, especially future generations. This is contrary to the plan of God, who created everything for life.”
He confirmed plans to speak at the COP28 gathering next weekend and asked for prayers and commitment “to take the protection of our common home to heart.”
Francis also noted that Saturday marked the 90th anniversary of the Holodomor, also known as the “Great Ukrainian Famine,” in which millions of Ukrainians starved to death as a result of orders from the Soviet Union between 1932-1933.
“That lacerating wound, instead of healing, is made even more painful by the atrocities of the war that continues to make those dear people suffer,” he said, and offered prayers for all those suffering war and violent conflict.
Prayer, he said, is “the force of peace that breaks the spiral of hatred, breaks the cycle of revenge and opens unexpected paths of reconciliation.”
Pope Francis voiced gratitude for the recent truce between Israel and Palestine in the Gaza war, and for the liberation of several hostages who were abducted by Hamas during their Oct. 7 surprise attack on Israel.
“Let’s pray that everyone will be (freed) as soon as possible – let’s think of their families! – that more humanitarian aid enter Gaza, an that we insist on dialogue,” he said, saying dialogue is the only path to peace and “those who don’t want to dialogue don’t want peace.”
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