Pope Francis spends 3rd day in hospital, recovering from bronchitis

Friday March 31 2023
Pope Francis

Pope Francis is helped on March 29, 2023 to get up the popemobile car as he leaves at the end of the weekly general audience The Vatican. Pope Francis has been at the Gemelli Hospital in Rome since the afternoon of March 29, 2023 for some previously scheduled check-ups. PHOTO | VINCENZO PINTO | AFP


Pope Francis on Friday prepared to spend a third day in hospital after doctors said he was responding well to antibiotics for bronchitis and could be discharged "in the coming days".

The 86-year-old pontiff was admitted on Wednesday for what the Vatican said were pre-planned tests, after complaining of breathing difficulties.

But he appeared to quickly recover and by Thursday morning was feeling well enough to eat, pray and work from his private suite in Rome's Gemelli hospital.

“He was suffering an infectious bronchitis which required the administration of antibiotics,” medical staff said in a statement late Thursday.

“The treatment has seen a marked improvement in his state of health and Francis could be back home in the Vatican in the coming days,” the staff added.

A widespread concern


His admission sparked widespread concern.

The Argentine who had part of one of his lungs removed as a young man, has suffered increasing health issues in recent years and it was his second stay in hospital since 2021.

Pope Francis


The pope's illness has raised questions over whether he will be at services in the Holy Week and Easter, Christianity's most important holiday.

Francis who earlier this month marked 10 years as head of the Catholic Church, would normally preside over the celebrations which kick off this weekend with Palm Sunday.

A Jesuit who seems most happy being among his flock, Francis continues to travel internationally and keeps a busy schedule.

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But he has been forced to use a wheelchair and walking stick in the past year due to knee pain and admitted last summer, he had to slow down.

He said on Thursday that he was touched by the many messages he was receiving in hospital, thanking on Twitter those praying for his recovery.

‘Not on his agenda’

Francis was admitted in July 2021 to the same Rome hospital for 10 days for an operation on his colon after suffering from a type of diverticulitis, an inflammation of pockets that develop in the lining of the intestine.

In an interview in January, the pope said the diverticulitis had returned.

Francis has repeatedly said he would consider stepping down if his health required it, following the example of his predecessor Benedict XVI.

Pope Benedict XVI

The late former pope Benedict XVI. PHOTO | AFP

Read: Body of ex-pope Benedict to lie in state at Vatican

The German theologian who died on December 31, shocked the world in 2013 by becoming the first pope since the Middle Ages to resign.

However, Francis has cautioned that papal resignations should not be the norm and said in an interview in February that the idea was currently not on his agenda.