Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Pope Francis sits in the passenger seat of a silver car. Pope Francis arrives at the Vatican, on June 16, 2023, nine days after undergoing abdominal surgery. Pope Francis said Thursday June 22, 2023 he was short of breath and still feeling the effects of anesthesia from abdominal surgery two weeks ago. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)

ROME (AP) — Pope Francis said Thursday he was short of breath and still feeling the effects of anesthesia from abdominal surgery two weeks ago.

Francis made the comments to explain why he chose not to deliver a prepared speech to visiting charity workers for Eastern rite churches. Instead, the speech was handed out.

“I’m still under the effect of anesthesia,” Vatican News quoted Francis as saying. “My breathing isn’t good.”

The 86-year-old pontiff underwent three hours of surgery under general anesthesia June 7 to repair a hernia in his abdominal wall and remove intestinal scar tissue. He was discharged on June 16, with his surgeon saying he was “better than before.”

“I’m still under the effect of anesthesia,” Vatican News quoted Pope Francis as saying. “My breathing isn’t good.”

Francis has complained previously about feeling the effects of anesthesia long after surgical procedures, including after an operation in 2021 to remove 33 centimeters (13 inches) of his large intestine. He had cited that reaction in part in refusing surgery to repair strained ligaments in his knee.

His surgeon for both the 2021 and 2023 operations, Dr. Sergio Alfieri of Rome’s Gemelli hospital, has stressed that there were no adverse reactions to anesthesia either time, though he acknowledged that “no one likes” to be put under and operated on.

Francis had part of one lung removed as a young man following a respiratory infection and had a three-day hospital stay this past spring for bronchitis. He often speaks in a whisper and can seem out of breath, especially when physically strained.

Part of his rehabilitation after the most recent surgery involved respiratory exercises.

Alfieri has urged Francis to take it easy so that the scar can heal and he can fully regain his strength before upcoming trips in August to Portugal and Mongolia. Francis hasn’t exactly followed doctors’ orders, holding a normal slate of audiences in recent days including high-profile meetings this week with the Cuban and Brazilian presidents.

The latest from america

In an interview with Colleen Dulle, Anglican Bishop Jo Bailey Wells talks about attending a meeting of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinal Advisors where she spoke about her experience as an ordained woman.
Colleen DulleMarch 04, 2024
The troubled Catholic outlet's fate was announced by a law firm representing a priest who had sued Church Militant for defamation.
The new recording of “How Great Thou Art” features a new verse, a different beat and a chance to provide humanitarian aid to Ukrainians and other Eastern Europeans in the midst of war.
Is our intense focus on the form of liturgical celebration placing a disproportionate emphasis upon the Eucharist as the summit of Christian life?
Michael OlsonMarch 04, 2024