Smiling, Pope Francis was discharged in Rome: “I am still alive and I was not afraid”

He Pope Francisco86 years old, was discharged this Saturday after spending three days hospitalized in Rome for infectious bronchitis. On leaving, in a very good mood, the Pontiff ironized by pointing out “I’m still alive”, and confessed that “was not afraid” during the health trance he had to go through. As he left, Francisco greeted faithful who were waiting for him and was with a couple who had lost a child on Friday night. He hugged them and stopped to pray with them.

Hours earlier, at the Gemelli Hospital, he had visited the children hospitalized in the pediatric oncology sector. “It is the most beautiful thing, one is a priest, it is the vocation of the priest, of the parish priest”, he pointed out about that visit, in which he brought some gifts to the little ones who are going through such a terrible situation. Even also this Friday, baptized a newborn in the same Gemelli hospital.

With the journalists on the street, he even allowed himself a small anecdote: “Once, an old man, older than me, after a similar situation said ‘father, I didn’t see death, but I saw it coming and it’s ugly, eh'”, he pointed out between laughs.

Francisco, leaving the clinic in Rome. (AFP PHOTO)

Francisco praised the work of the doctors and nurses who treated him, confirmed that tomorrow he will lead the Palm Sunday celebrations in San Pedro Square.

“After leaving the A. Gemelli University Hospital, this morning Pope Francis went to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. The Pope stopped before the icon of Mary, Salus Populi Romani, praying to her the children he met yesterday in the Pediatric Oncology and Children’s Neurosurgery service of the hospital, all the sick and those who suffer from illnesses and loss of a loved one,” said the statement from the papal spokesman, Matteo Bruni.

Pope Francis, leaving the hospital where he was admitted in Rome.

Francisco was then greeted with applause by the people who had gathered there hoping to see him. As on other occasions and because he uses a wheelchair due to knee pain, he alone will preside over the ceremony, which will be celebrated by Argentine Cardinal Leonardo Sandri.

Before entering his residence in the Vatican, the pope stopped for a few minutes to pray in the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, in the center of Rome, a personal tradition that he observes before each trip abroad. “Happy Easter and pray for me”, he told the Italian television journalist that he was waiting for him at the entrance to the Vatican.

Shortly after, the Holy See’s press office released its work schedule for this Saturday, which includes a meeting with Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, responsible for 10 years for the bishops of the world, who resigned in January after being accused of improper touching of a scholarship holder.

The bronchitis scare

Francis received antibiotic treatment for infectious bronchitis, which produced “the expected effects with notable improvement,” the pope’s spokesman explained. The head of the Catholic church suffers from chronic health problems and underwent colon surgery in July 2021.

On Wednesday, the Vatican said he was at the Roman hospital for a scheduled check-up, but had to admit hours later that he had a “respiratory infection” that required antibiotic treatment. His hospitalization surprised public opinion and fueled rumors about his possible resignation for health reasons.

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His fragile health has “given oxygen” to those who seek to present him as a weak person and hope that he will follow the example of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who resigned in 2013 when he realized that his physical and mental strength was not enough, Robert told AFP. Mickens, editor of the religious newspaper La Croix International.

Francis has always left open the possibility of emulating his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who died at the end of 2022. But his messages on this option are ambivalent. In July 2022 he said that he could “step aside”, but in February he stated that the resignation of a pope “should not become a fad” and that such an idea was “not on his agenda at the moment”.


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