The news from Rome is encouraging. Pope Francis, hospitalized since Wednesday, suffers from “infectious bronchitis” but is receiving antibiotic treatment which has allowed a “marked improvement” in his state of health, the medical team at Gemelli hospital said on Thursday.
The 86-year-old Argentine pope is benefiting from “antibiotic treatment by infusion which has produced the expected effects”, medical staff said in a statement sent by the Vatican, adding that he could be discharged from hospital “in the coming days “.
The pope dedicated his afternoon “to rest, prayer and certain tasks,” Holy See spokesman Matteo Bruni said in the same statement. At midday, the Vatican had already wanted to be reassuring about the pope’s state of health and had assured that he had returned to work.
Jorge Bergoglio, who suffers from chronic health problems and uses a wheelchair due to knee pain, also gathered in the morning in the chapel of the private apartment reserved for the popes on the 10th floor of the university hospital. Gemelli.
This reassuring news comes against a backdrop of concerns after the contradictory information distilled Wednesday by the Vatican on the real state of health of the pope, which made the headlines of the international press on Thursday.
After talking about “scheduled exams”, the Vatican spokesperson finally announced on Wednesday evening that he was suffering from a “respiratory infection” unrelated to Covid-19. The pope, who had had difficulty breathing in recent days, must undergo treatment for “a few days”.
On Twitter, the pope said Thursday “touched by the many messages received in recent hours”, from those of the bishops of several countries to that of the American president Joe Biden. “I express my gratitude to everyone for their closeness and their prayers,” he wrote.
Now is the time to question the pope’s participation in the celebrations of Holy Week and Easter, the main highlight of the year in the Catholic world, on which the Vatican has not communicated.
This sudden hospitalization took the world 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 from his ” popemobile”.
François had already been hospitalized for ten days at the Gemelli hospital in July 2021 for a major colon operation. He admitted to 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 on his possible renunciation.
The head of the Catholic Church has always left the door open to this possibility. His predecessor Benedict XVI stepped down 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”, ensuring that this hypothesis was “not on his agenda for the moment “. The pope is constantly monitored by a team of caregivers, both in the Vatican and during his trips abroad. A precaution all the more necessary since he has a heavy medical history behind him: at 21, he almost died of pleurisy and suffered the partial removal of a lung.