UPDATED with Vatican statement on condition: Pope Francis will spend a few days in hospital after being diagnosed with a respiratory infection, the Vatican has said.
“In recent days, Pope Francis has complained of some breathing difficulties and this afternoon he went to the Gemelli Hospital to carry out some medical checks,” the Vatican press office said in a statement.
“The results highlighted a respiratory infection (excluding a Covid-19 infection) which will require a few days of appropriate hospital medical treatment,” it continued. “Pope Francis is touched by the many messages he has received.”
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Pope Francis was admitted to Rome’s Gemelli Hospital on Wednesday amid conflicting reports about his reason for being there.
The Vatican put out a short statement mid-afternoon saying the 86-year-old pontiff had been admitted for scheduled checks and that his diary had been cleared for Thursday and Friday.
Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera later reported that he had arrived at the hospital in an ambulance, following heart and breathing problems after his traditional Wednesday Saint Peter’s Square address, which led him to cancel a scheduled TV interview.
The report added that the pontiff’s condition was not considered “worrying” but that he was undergoing further medical checks and would be kept in overnight.
Uncertainty over the situation has put news orgs worldwide on high alert as they monitor the situation.
Pope Francis’s late predecessor Pope Benedict XVI voluntarily stepped down at the age of 85 in 2013, citing his deteriorating mental and physical strength. He died at the age of 95 in December 2022.
Pope Francis, who underwent colon surgery in 2021, has hinted he could take a similar course of action if his health began to fail him.
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