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Pope Francis hospitalised with respiratory infection



Vatican confirms he will need treatment for ‘a few days’

The Vatican has announced that Pope Francis, 84, has a respiratory infection and will spend “a few days” in hospital for treatment. The pontiff had complained of breathing difficulties before tests confirmed that he did not have Covid-19. He was unexpectedly taken to hospital for tests earlier in the day, causing Italian media to question the Vatican’s claim that the check-up had been pre-planned.

The latest hospitalisation comes ahead of Palm Sunday, which marks the start of the Easter week, and may leave doubt over whether he will be able to lead the ceremonies as customary. Pope Francis had part of one lung removed when he was in his 20s to train as a priest in Argentina, which makes him more exposed to respiratory problems. He also suffers from diverticulitis, which can infect or inflame the colon, and has had an operation to remove part of his colon.

Last year, the pope told Reuters that he preferred not to have surgery on his knee because he did not want a repeat of long-term negative effects from anaesthesia, which he suffered after the 2021 operation. He alternates between using a cane and a wheelchair in his public appearances. In January, he revealed that diverticulitis had caused him to put on weight, but he was not overly concerned.

Francis told Reuters last year that he acknowledged his advancing age and difficulty walking might have ushered in a new, slower phase of his papacy. However, since then, he has visited Kazakhstan and Bahrain and made a trip last month to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. He has stated that if he resigns, it would be due to serious health reasons, such as grave incapacitation.



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