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Pope in hospital for tests, two months after bronchitis infection

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Pope Francis visited a Rome hospital for a medical check-up on Tuesday, the Vatican said, just over two months after he was hospitalised with bronchitis.

“This morning Pope Francis went to the Gemelli Polyclinic to undergo some clinical tests and returned to the Vatican before noon,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement.

Francis, 86, was forced to take a day off at the end of last month with a fever, which the Vatican secretary of state blamed on tiredness.

The pope does not have public audiences scheduled on Tuesdays. His general audience at the Vatican was confirmed for Wednesday, according his official schedule.

The Vatican also released the schedule for Francis’s next trip abroad, which will see him attend World Youth Day in Lisbon from August 2-6.

The examination had been pre-planned, the Repubblica newspaper said, citing a Vatican source. It added that the pontiff was undergoing specialised scans.

When Francis was hospitalised at the end of March, the Vatican initially said in a one-line statement that he had gone into the Gemelli for health checks that were previously scheduled.

It later emerged that he had been rushed in after suffering breathing difficulties.

He was diagnosed with bronchitis and stayed in hospital for three nights, before returning to the Vatican to preside over Easter services.

Asked how he felt, he quipped with a big smile, “I am still alive!”

Francis, who has been the leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics for a decade, has suffered increasing health issues over the past year.

He has persistent pain in his right knee as well as sciatica, and his hospital stay for bronchitis sparked widespread concern.

– Just in time –

It also fuelled speculation over his future.

Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, who died in December, quit in 2013 due to failing health.

For about a year, the pope has had to rely on a wheelchair due to the recurring knee pain he has said cannot be treated through surgery.

Asked about his health in an interview with US Spanish-language network Telemundo broadcast in May, Francis said it was “much better”.

“I can walk now. My knee has been mending. I could hardly walk beforehand. Now I can. Some days are more painful than others,” the pope said.

Francis added that doctors had caught his bronchitis infection just in time.

“If we’d waited a few more hours, it would’ve been much more serious. But I was out (of hospital) in four days,” he said.

Despite his health issues, Francis continues to travel widely.

But the pope acknowledged in July 2022 that he needed to slow down.

“At my age and with this limitation, I have to save myself a little bit to be able to serve the Church,” he said then.

“Or, alternatively, to think about the possibility of stepping aside.”

In March, however, he insisted that he had no current plans to quit.

Benedict XVI, who died on December 31 aged 95, surprised the world in 2013 when he announced he was stepping down, a radical move not taken by a pope since the Middle Ages.

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AFP

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.







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