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Gerard O’ConnellMarch 30, 2023
Pope Francis meets children at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Pope Francis “rested well during the night,” his “clinical picture is improving progressively” and he is “continuing with the scheduled treatment,” the director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, said in a statement sent to journalists at 12:35 p.m. (Rome time) today.

Mr. Bruni reported that after having breakfast this morning, Pope Francis “read some newspapers” and then “went back to work.” Then, “before lunch he went to the chapel of the private apartment” on the 10th floor of the Gemelli Hospital where he “was absorbed in prayer and received holy Communion.”

The Vatican said another bulletin on the pope’s health will be issued this evening.

Francis has asked the doctors not to give public reports on his health condition, as he does not want to dramatize his state of health.

There was in fact little medical information on the pope’s health in today’s statement, as was also the case when Francis was hospitalized for 10 days in July 2021 and underwent major surgery. Vatican sources attribute the scant details to the pope’s insistence on only releasing essential information. They say, moreover, that Francis has asked the doctors not to give public reports on his health condition, as he does not want to dramatize his state of health.

[A Prayer for Pope Francis During his Hospitalization]

Mr. Bruni’s statement today appears to confirm reports published earlier in the Italian press, based on unidentified “informed” medical sources, that claim the pope’s situation is tranquil and there is no serious cause for concern for the 86-year-old pontiff, but he needs to get over the respiratory infection and rest in the hospital for some days.

Several Italian news outlets report that Francis does not have any serious form of pneumonia or heart problem. Sky 24 reports that the doctors “exclude” pneumological or cardiological problems, but America could not independently verify these reports. The Vatican and Italian news outlets report that Francis does not have Covid-19, a virus that is still prevalent in Italy, including in the Vatican.

There is much concern in the Vatican as to whether the pope will be able to preside at any of the Holy Week ceremonies. The Italian daily, Il Fatto Quotidiano, reports that the Vatican has a backup plan for the Holy Week liturgies, something that seems plausible, given that few people here expect the pope to preside at the Palm Sunday liturgy in St. Peter’s Square. That newspaper said Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, the vice-dean of the College of Cardinals, could replace the pope for the Palm Sunday liturgy, but the Vatican has not confirmed or denied this.

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