Learn to switch off, says pope in first appearance at Vatican after hospital stay

July 19, 2021 - 1:46 PM
Pope Francis waves as he leaves after leading Angelus prayer from his window at the Vatican following intestinal surgery, at the Vatican, July 18, 2021. (Reuters/Remo Casilli)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis made his first public appearance since returning to the Vatican mid-week after an 11-day hospital stay, telling wellwishers they should take a break and switch off from the stresses of modern life.

“Let us put a halt to the frantic running around dictated by our agendas. Let us learn how to take a break, to turn off the mobile phone,” Pope Francis said in his weekly address from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

The 84-year-old pope had part of his colon removed in an operation on July 4 — the first time that Francis has faced a significant health concern during his eight-year papacy.

He returned to the Vatican on Wednesday, where he needed help from assistants to get out of his car. He looked well on Sunday, speaking in a relatively clear voice although not as strong as before his hospitalization. He did not mention his stay in hospital.

READ: Pope reappears after surgery, backs free universal health care

Hundreds of people were gathered in the sunny square and cheered when he appeared at the open window.

As is often the case, at the end of his address the pope mentioned some of the events dominating world headlines.

He urged an end to the recent public unrest in South Africa and called for peace and dialogue in Cuba after unprecedented, protests rocked the Communist-run country.

“I am also close to the dear people of Cuba in these difficult times, in particular to the families who especially suffer,” Francis said to cheers.

He also referred to catastrophic floods in recent days in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, which have killed more than 180 people. —Reporting by Crispian Balmer Editing by Frances Kerry