Pope Francis to have surgery for intestinal obstruction

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

ROME — Pope Francis was hospitalized for intestinal surgery on Wednesday, the Vatican said, a procedure expected to keep the 86-year-old pontiff under care for “several days” and raised fresh concerns about his declining health.

The Vatican said the procedure was designed to address an intestinal obstruction caused by a “painful” hernia. Two years ago, the pope had 13 inches of his colon removed to address a stenosis, or narrowing, of his large intestine.

Francis, who was elected 10 years ago, was taken to Rome’s largest hospital — Gemelli — in the early afternoon Rome time, following general audiences at the Vatican. The decision to move forward with the operation came after he had tests a day earlier. Doctors, the Vatican said, would insert an intestinal prosthesis into the pope in a process called a laparotomy and Francis would be under general anesthesia.

Pope to leave hospital, take part in Palm Sunday services, Vatican says

“It’s no joke, huh?” said a Vatican official after he looked up the surgery. “Especially because it’s an elderly person. … I trust the people in whose hands he is, but it’s no walk in the park.” He spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

In the past, the pope said he had declined to have knee surgery because of the need to use general anesthesia and how he hadn’t reacted well to it during the 2021 surgery.

Despite concerns about his health, the pope, one of the oldest in history, has remained resilient and diligently kept a busy agenda. On Wednesday morning, he greeted the faithful in St. Peter’s Square after his general audience, blessing a child with a hand on his head and making his rounds in the uncovered “popemobile” in the bright sunlight.

The pope, who had part of a lung removed when he was a young man, has suffered from increasing health issues in recent years; this is his second hospitalization of the year. He was brought to Gemelli Hospital in March after coming down with bronchitis ahead of Easter week celebrations, drawing widespread concern and speculation about his health.

While he was only in the hospital for a few days, it came ahead of the busy Holy Week and Easter period, and the Vatican issued daily updates showing the pope working, eating pizza, baptizing infants and handing out chocolate eggs on the pediatric oncology ward.

His last colon surgery — in July 2021 — was a three-hour procedure performed at the same hospital. Although the pope has proved resilient and active, he has faced mounting challenges. He has suffered from chronic knee pain that prompted the use of a wheelchair and a walking stick.

“I don’t think I can continue with the same pace of the trips as before. I think that at my age and with this limitation, I have to spare myself a bit, to be able to serve the church,” Francis said after a trip to Canada last year. “But I will continue to make trips and be close to the people, because I think closeness is a way to serve.”

The Vatican has announced a busy schedule for the pope this year, including planned trips to Portugal for World Youth Day in the first week of August, as well as a trip to Mongolia later that month.

Faiola reported from Lisbon.

Source link