Pope Francis spent "a good night", a Vatican source said on Thursday, the day after his hospitalization in Rome for a respiratory infection, reassuring news after this new alert for the head of the Catholic Church, who at 86 is suffering chronic health problems.
The pope's night was "quiet" and the staff following him are "very optimistic", said the Italian agency ANSA, citing hospital sources. Rather reassuring news as the contradictory information distilled on Wednesday by the Vatican had raised concerns about the real state of health of the Argentine pope.
After mentioning "scheduled exams", the Vatican spokesman finally announced on Wednesday evening that he was suffering from a "respiratory infection".
"In recent days, Pope Francis has had difficulty breathing and (...) he was admitted to the A. Gemelli polyclinic for medical checks", according to Matteo Bruni.
These analyzes "revealed a respiratory infection" unrelated to Covid-19 and the pope will have to undergo treatment in the hospital for "a few days", he said. The pontiff should however be able to preside over Palm Sunday Mass at the Vatican, "unless unforeseen", according to hospital sources cited by ANSA.
The pope's agenda also includes celebrations for Holy Week and Easter, the highlight of the Catholic world, and he is expected in Budapest at the end of April.
Resignation not ruled out
This hospitalization took everyone by surprise, especially since on Wednesday morning Jorge Bergoglio had again participated as every week in the general audience in Saint Peter's Square, during which he appeared smiling, greeting the faithful of his "popemobile ". François, who has been in a wheelchair since May 2022 due to chronic knee pain, had already been hospitalized for ten days at Gemelli Hospital in July 2021 for a major colon operation.
He admitted having kept "after-effects" of the anesthesia, which led him to rule out knee surgery so far. The pain caused by this joint, which notably forced him to cancel several appointments in 2022 and to postpone a trip to Africa, is at the heart of conjecture about his possible resignation.
The head of the Catholic Church has always left the door open to this possibility. His predecessor Benedict XVI resigned in 2013, taking the world by surprise. François, for his part, blows hot and cold on this delicate subject.
After having mentioned in July the possibility of "putting oneself aside", he had judged in February that the resignation of a pope should "not become a fashion", assuring that this hypothesis was "not on his agenda for the moment ".
The pope is constantly followed by a team of caregivers, whether in the Vatican or during his trips abroad. A precaution all the more necessary since this octogenarian has a heavy medical history behind him: at 21, he almost died of pleurisy and suffered a partial ablation of one of his lungs.
Writing with AFP
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