Pope Francis, 84, operated on for inflammation of the colon

AFP, published on Sunday 04 July 2021 at 18:24

Pope Francis, 84, will undergo Sunday surgery in Rome “scheduled” for inflammation of the colon.

The pope was admitted to the A. Gemelli hospital in the Italian capital where he is due to undergo “scheduled surgery for symptomatic diverticular stenosis of the colon,” a Vatican statement said.

It is a potentially painful inflammation of the diverticula, hernias or bags that form on the walls of the digestive system and the frequency of which increases with age.

One of the possible complications of this condition is stenosis, which is a narrowing of the intestine.

The Pope arrived around 3:00 p.m. (1:00 p.m. GMT) by car, accompanied by a close collaborator, according to the Catholic daily Avvenire.

Many media were on Sunday afternoon near the hospital whose entrances were guarded by police, according to an AFPTV journalist on the spot.

A health bulletin will be published after the operation led by Professor Sergio Alfieri, head of the complex digestive surgery unit of the establishment.

On a state visit to France, Italian President Sergio Mattarella sent a message of support to the Pope by sending him “the loving thoughts of all Italians”.

And messages of solidarity were pouring in on the Facebook site of the official Vatican agency. “May the Holy Spirit guide the hand of the surgeon”, wrote for example Pina, a faithful Sicilian.

– “I am not afraid of death” –

Born December 17, 1936 in Argentina, Jorge Bergoglio had his upper lobe removed from his right lung at the age of 21 due to pleurisy. He suffers from hip problems and sciatica.

Sunday noon, he celebrated the traditional Regina Coeli Sunday prayer at the window of the Sainte-Marthe residence for the faithful gathered under a blazing sun on Saint-Pierre Square.

He seemed in good shape and excited to announce a state visit to Slovakia from September 12 to 15, his second overseas trip only in 2021 after Iraq in March.

“I am not afraid of death”, he confided in a book of interviews carried out in 2019 with an Argentinian journalist.

After the lung operation, “I never felt limited in my activities (…). I never felt fatigue or shortness of breath,” he assured.

In recent years, however, he has had to cancel a few appearances and sometimes walks with difficulty.

Since the start of the pandemic, which hit Italy hard in February 2020, he had appeared little worried about his own health, often traveling without a mask, even though he had to forgo his usual walkabouts during the Wednesday hearing.

Other than a cold that forced him to cancel appointments at the very start of the epidemic, his health did not give rise to any particular concern.

Francis was elected in 2013 to succeed Benedict XVI, who had resigned in February of the same year, after eight years of pontificate.

The first pope to resign in nearly 600 years, the German pope had cited health reasons.

Now 93 years old, he lives as a recluse in a Vatican City monastery. He has appeared more and more fragile in recent months, moving in a wheelchair, speaking with difficulty.

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