Pope recovering well from surgery but asked to skip Sunday blessing

Pope Francis looks on during the ‘Eco-Educational Cities’ conference organised by Scholas Ocurrentes to promoting education and sustainability at the Augustinian Patristic Pontifical Institute in Rome. Pope Francis was in a Rome hospital for a medical procedure on June 6, 2023, according to Italian media, just over two months after he was hospitalised with bronchitis. Picture: Andreas Solaro / AFP

Pope Francis has had surgery for a hernia, just over two months after he was hospitalised with bronchitis. Picture: Andreas Solaro / AFP

Published Jun 11, 2023


Rome - Pope Francis' recovery from surgery is going well but doctors advised him not to deliver his Sunday blessing from a hospital balcony to avoid strain on his abdomen.

Briefing reporters at the Gemelli hospital on Saturday, chief surgeon Sergio Alfieri also said the 86-year-old had agreed with doctors to stay there for at least all of next week.

Francis was suffering from a hernia on the site of a scar from a previous surgery. He underwent a three-hour operation at the Gemelli hospital in Rome on Wednesday, the latest health procedure for the 86-year-old leader of the Catholic Church.

Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni said the pope would say Sunday's traditional noon Angelus prayer in his hospital suite and the faithful could say it at the same time.

All papal audiences have been cancelled until June 18 to give the pontiff time to recover, but the pope resumed work from his hospital room on Friday.

"He doesn't have a fever, all cardio-respiratory functions are normal," Sergio Alfieri, the surgeon who operated on the pontiff, told the press on Saturday.

"Generally, after an operation like this, one is hospitalised for four-five days," Alfieri said.

"We hope to convince him to stay all of next week as such a hospital stay will allow him to return to work with more strength and security."

But Francis will ultimately decide when to be discharged, he said.

The surgery on Wednesday saw him placed under general anaesthesia as the abdominal wall was repaired with a surgical mesh.

Doctors had said after the operation that the pope should have no limitations on travels and other activities after recovery.

He has trips to Portugal on August 2 to 6 for World Youth Day and to visit the Shrine of Fatima, and to Mongolia August 31 to September 4, one of the remotest places he will have visited.

In March, he spent three nights in Gemelli being treated with antibiotics for a respiratory infection.

In July 2021, he underwent surgery for a type of diverticulitis, an inflammation of small bulges or pockets that can develop in the lining of the intestine, spending 10 days in hospital.

Francis has been head of the worldwide Catholic Church since 2013, when his predecessor Benedict XVI became the first pope since the Middle Ages to resign, citing his failing mental and physical health.

REUTERS and Agence France-Presse (AFP)