Pope Francis’ health ‘stable’ despite breathing difficulties, Vatican says

November 28, 2023 - 10:14 AM
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Pope Francis arrives for the weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, March 29, 2023. (Reuters/Guglielmo Mangiapane)

Pope Francis’ lung inflammation has caused him some breathing difficulties, but his condition is stable and “clearly improving,” the Vatican said on Monday.

The 86-year-old pope is being treated with antibiotics intravenously and is in “good and stable” condition without a fever, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni told journalists on Nov. 27.

A CT scan at a Rome hospital over the weekend “ruled out pneumonia, but it showed lung inflammation causing some breathing difficulties,” Bruni said.

Pope Francis felt well enough to keep his scheduled appointment with the president of Paraguay on Monday morning but has postponed some of his other meetings this week as he recovers from what the Vatican has described as a “mild flu.”

The Vatican released photos of the pope’s meeting with Paraguayan President Santiago Peña, which showed the pope smiling and using a cane to walk.

The pope was also expected to meet with a group of French sexual abuse survivors on Monday, according to the French news outlet I.Media, but it appears that this meeting was among those postponed.

“To facilitate the pope’s recovery, some important engagements scheduled for these days have been postponed so that he can devote the desired time and energy to them,” Bruni explained.

“Others, of an institutional nature or easier to support given his current health condition, have been maintained.”

Pope Francis, who turns 87 next month, has experienced a number of medical setbacks in recent years. He has been hospitalized on more than one occasion, most recently in June for abdominal surgery.

Part of the pope’s right lung was removed in a surgery in 1957 in Argentina before he began his novitiate with the Jesuits. Earlier this year, the pope was treated for bronchitis for several days, quipping on his April 1 release, “I’m still alive, you know.”

On Sunday, the pope gave the Angelus blessing from his residence, the Casa Santa Marta, rather than from the usual window of the Apostolic Palace overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

“Today I cannot appear at the window because I have this problem of inflammation of the lungs,” the pope said in the Angelus broadcast on Nov. 26.

Pope Francis indicated in his Angelus address that he still intends to travel to Dubai next weekend to deliver a speech to the United Nations COP28 climate conference. The pope is scheduled to be in the United Arab Emirates Dec. 1–3.