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Gerard O’ConnellJune 06, 2023
Pope Francis speaks about apostolic zeal and the life of Jesuit Father Matteo Ricci during his weekly general audience May 31, 2023, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

Pope Francis entered the Gemelli Hospital in Rome today, June 6, at 10:40 a.m. for a pre-scheduled check-up and left the hospital less than an hour later at 11:20 a.m. The news was broken by ANSA, the Italian state news agency.

Citing Vatican sources, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica said the visit had been scheduled, and consisted of an exam using radiation to provide information about internal organs and tissues.

A CT scan is a commonly used medical scan which uses radiation to obtain images of internal images of the body, but the Vatican did not provide any details about what tests were done.

Pope Francis entered the Gemelli Hospital in Rome today, June 6, at 10:40 a.m. for a pre-scheduled check-up and left the hospital less than an hour later at 11:20 a.m.

Because his check-up was on Tuesday, a day on which he normally does not have any audiences in the Vatican, it seems reasonable to say the visit was scheduled in advance. But, as is often the case when there is a question of the pope’s health, the Vatican-accredited media went on alert immediately.

The director of the Holy See press office, Matteo Bruni, responding to questions from journalists, issued a statement two hours after the pope had returned to Santa Marta. “This morning Pope Francis went to the Gemelli Hospital to undergo some clinical tests and returned to the Vatican before midday,” the statement said. Mr. Bruni gave no further information.

Pope Francis has been hospitalized at the Gemelli on two occasions. First, on July 4, 2021, when he spent 10 days there after undergoing a three-hour surgery, which included a left hemicolectomy. The procedure involves the removal of the descending part of the colon, a surgery that can be recommended to treat diverticulitis.

A year later, in an interview with the Reuters news agency in July 2022, Francis dismissed as “court gossip” rumors that cancer was found during his colon operation. In late January 2023, Francis told The Associated Press that his diverticulitis had returned but insisted he was in good health for his age.

Then, in an unexpected development, the 86-year-old pope was hospitalized a second time on March 29, 2023, after being taken by ambulance from Santa Marta, the Vatican guesthouse where he resides, suffering from high fever and what seemed to be pains in the chest. On arrival at the hospital, the doctors submitted him for clinical tests and discovered that he had an “infectious-based bronchitis that required the administration of an infusion [intravenous] based antibiotic therapy.” He spent four days in hospital on this occasion, but returned in surprisingly good form and was able to preside at all the Holy Week ceremonies.

Pope Francis’ health and in particular his mobility appear to have improved in recent months.

America learned then that in the weeks prior to his hospitalization on March 29, Pope Francis had made two scheduled visits to the Gemelli for check-ups. A third check-up had been scheduled for the week in which he was taken into hospital.

The Gemelli Hospital on the outskirts of Rome is part of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart. It has kept a suite of rooms reserved for the popes on its 10th floor since Pope John Paul II was first taken there after the assassination attempt on his life on May 13, 1981. The Polish pope was hospitalized on seven occasions there.

Pope Francis’ health and in particular his mobility appear to have improved in recent months. He had suffered from problems with his right knee for almost a year, due to a fracture, and had to use a wheelchair for most of that time. Over the past two months, however, he has begun to walk again, with the aid of a walking stick.

As a 20-year-old man, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the future pope, was first hospitalized in 1957, while he was studying for the priesthood. He then underwent surgery to remove the top lobe of his right lung, but he has said on various occasions that the procedure has not caused any problems with his lung since.

Material from OSV News was used in this report.

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