Pope Francis has been hospitalized with a respiratory infection and will require a stay of “a few days” for treatment, according to a Vatican statement.
The statement indicated that the 86-year-old pontiff had recently complained of respiratory difficulties. In addition, examinations revealed that he did not have Covid-19.
“Pope Francis is moved by the numerous messages he has received and expresses his appreciation for the closeness and prayers,” the Vatican said.
The statement was made hours after Francis was transported to the hospital for tests against his will. The Vatican initially stated that the check-up had been scheduled, but Italian media reported that a Wednesday afternoon television interview with the pontiff had been abruptly canceled.
The pope attended his weekly general audience at the Vatican and appeared in excellent health earlier in the day.
As a result of having a portion of one lung removed when he was in his early twenties and studying to become a cleric in his native Argentina, Francis is sometimes short of breath and more prone to respiratory problems.
His most recent hospitalization precedes a Palm Sunday service on 2 April, which signals the beginning of a busy week of ceremonies leading up to Easter Sunday on 9 April, casting doubt on his ability to lead them as usual.
Pope Francis has diverticulitis, a condition that can infect or inflame the colon, and in 2021 he underwent surgery at the Gemelli hospital to have a portion of his colon removed. In January, he reported that the condition had returned and was causing him to gain weight, but he was unconcerned. He did not elaborate.
In his public appearances, he alternates between using a cane and a wheelchair due to a knee condition.