Pope Francis’s health ‘gradually improving’ after hospital treatment

Pope Francis’s health is ‘gradually improving’ after he was hospitalised with a respiratory infection (File picture)  (AP)
Pope Francis’s health is ‘gradually improving’ after he was hospitalised with a respiratory infection (File picture) (AP)

Pope Francis’s health is “gradually improving” after he was hospitalised with a respiratory infection, his spokesperson has said.

The pontiff, 86, was taken to Gemelli hospital in Rome on Wednesday after having trouble breathing and developing chest pain.

In a statement on Thursday afternoon, Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni said Francis had “rested well during the night” and that he was continuing with planned treatment.

“This morning after breakfast, he read some newspapers and resumed work. Before lunch he went to the little chapel in the private apartment, where he gathered in prayer and received the Eucharist.”

Medical tests have ruled out Covid, heart problems and pneumonia.

Mr Bruni did not say when Francis might be discharged from hospital, though the Vatican previously said he would spend “a few days” there.

Francis had been scheduled to celebrate Palm Sunday this weekend, but it is not clear how his medical condition will affect the Vatican’s Holy Week observances. These include Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and finally Easter Sunday on April 9.

It is the first time the pontiff has been hospitalised since having part of his colon removed at the Gemelli hospital in July 2021.

Francis has also used a wheelchair for over a year due to strained ligaments in his right knee and a small knee fracture, though more recently he has been seen walking with a cane.

Last year, the pope attended but did not preside at some of the Easter services due to his knee pain. If the same happened again, a cardinal would be appointed to celebrate the services.

In a tweet on Wednesday, the pontiff thanked the public for their messages of support.

“I am touched by the many messages received in these hours and I express my gratitude for the closeness and prayer.”

Despite his health problems, Francis has indicated he would only resign if he were gravely incapacitated.

Asked by Italian Swiss television RSI what condition would lead him to quit, he said: “A tiredness that doesn't let you see things clearly. A lack of clarity, of knowing how to evaluate situations.”