Pope Francis “Progressively Improving” After Hospitalization With Breathing Infection

Following Wednesday’s admission to the hospital for experiencing difficulty breathing in recent days, Pope Francis, the bishop of Rome and sovereign of the Vatican City State rested well overnight after being diagnosed with a respiratory infection.

Vatican spokesman, Matteo Bruni said the 86-year-old pontiff, who had part of one lung removed as a young man, ate breakfast, read the newspapers and was working from his hospital room at Rome’s Gemelli hospital.

“Before lunch he went to the little chapel in the private apartment, where he gathered in prayer and received the Eucharist,” he said.

The Vatican said he would remain for a few days of treatment at the hospital to treat respiratory infection, though not COVID-19.

The audiences of the Catholic Church head, were however canceled through Friday.

The spiritual leader to more than one-sixth of the world’s population, is scheduled to celebrate Palm Sunday this weekend, and it wasn’t clear how his medical condition would affect the Vatican’s Holy Week observances, which include Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and finally Easter Sunday on April 9.

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His hospitalization was the first since Francis had 33 centimeters (13 inches) of his colon removed and spent 10 days at the Gemelli hospital in July 2021.

Moreso, soon after the surgery, he said he had recovered fully and could eat normally. But in an interview with The Associated Press, in January, Francis said his diverticulosis, or bulges in the intestinal wall, had “returned.”

Before he was admitted to the hospital Wednesday, the pope had appeared in relatively good form during his regularly scheduled general audience, though he grimaced strongly while getting in and out of the “popemobile.”

The cleric has used a wheelchair for over a year due to strained ligaments in his right knee and a small knee fracture, though he had been walking more with a cane of late.

Francis has said he resisted having surgery for the knee problems because he didn’t respond well to general anesthesia during the 2021 intestinal surgery.

Information Nigeria reports that the bishop responded to well wishers of his health via Twitter on Thursday.

He wrote: “I am touched by the many messages received in these hours and I express my gratitude for the closeness and prayer.”