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Gerard O’ConnellJune 07, 2023
Pope Francis greets visitors from the popemobile as he rides around St. Peter's Square at the Vatican before his weekly general audience June 7, 2023. The Vatican announced the pope would be going to Rome's Gemelli hospital that afternoon for surgery for an "incisional laparocele," or hernia. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

This story has been updated.

"The surgery on the pope has finished,” the Vatican press office said in a statement on the evening of June 7. “It was done without complications, and lasted three hours.”

Pope Francis underwent surgery at the Gemelli Hospital in Rome this afternoon that involved a “laparotomy and plastic surgery on the abdominal wall with prostheses under general anesthesia,” the Vatican said earlier in the day.

The Vatican statement said the operation “was arranged in recent days by the medical team that assists Pope Francis” and “was [deemed] necessary because of an incarcerated laparocele [hernia] that is causing recurrent, painful and worsening sub-occlusive syndromes.”

"The surgery on the pope has finished,” the Vatican press office said in a statement on the evening of June 7. “It was done without complications, and lasted three hours.”

The Vatican said Pope Francis is expected to spend several days in the hospital “to allow the normal postoperative course and full functional recovery.”

Matteo Bruni, the director of the Holy See Press Office, said all papal audiences have been cancelled until June 18 “as a precautionary measure.”

Sources, including two doctors who did not wish to be named, say the problem is most likely related to a previous operation on July 4, 2021, when the pope was diagnosed with “symptomatic diverticular stenosis of the colon,” a narrowing in the large intestine. At that time, doctors removed more than 30 centimeters of his colon. Such operations can result in a later breach of the intestinal wall and require surgery to repair.

It will be the pope’s third hospitalization at the Gemelli Hospital. The first was for 10 days after the aforementioned operation on July 4, 2021; the second was for four days after he was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance on March 29 of this year and treated for acute bronchitis.

On a number of occasions after the July 4 operation, Francis spoke about the negative effects he had experienced from general anesthesia, so the fact that he will have to undergo this again is surely an unwelcome development.

The Vatican said the pope went to the hospital after his public audience this morning in St. Peter’s Square, during which he did not make any reference to his imminent hospitalization. It said no further information regarding the pope’s condition will be issued until after the operation—most likely this evening, June 7.

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