Pope Francis in hospital for previously scheduled check-up

Pope Francis, 86, attends hospital for scheduled check-up hours after attending weekly general audience

  • Pope Francis has been at the Gemelli hospital in Rome since this afternoon
  • He suffers from diverticulitis, a condition that can inflame or infect the colon 

Pope Francis has gone to Rome’s Gemelli hospital for a previously scheduled check-up, his spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a brief statement on Wednesday.

The Pope, 86, earlier today took part in the weekly general audience and looked in good health.

Pope Francis suffers from diverticulitis, a condition that can infect or inflame the colon, and he had an operation in 2021 to remove part of his colon.

The Pope has sparked debate over his future in the role after a number of comments appeared to indicate he might be thinking of stepping down at some point.

Pope Francis speaks during a general audience at St Peter’s Square, Vatican City, March, 29

Earlier this year, Pope Francis said the condition had returned and that it was causing him to put on weight, but that he was not overly concerned. 

He did not elaborate.

He also has a problem with his knee and alternates between using a cane and a wheelchair in his public appearances.

Francis told Reuters in an interview last year that he preferred not to have surgery on his knee because he did not want a repeat of long-term negative side effects from anaesthesia that he suffered after the 2021 operation.

The Pope said earlier this month that he may step down if he becomes too tired to continue in the role.

Asked by Italian media what would lead the him to resign, the Pope warned of ‘a fatigue that makes you not see things clearly… A lack of clarity when it comes to knowing how to assess situations.’

He said that he was ‘a bit ashamed’ to use a wheelchair due to a knee injury.

‘I am old,’ he told RSI. ‘I have less physical resistance, the knee [problem] was a physical humiliation, even if the recovery is going well now.’

Last month, the Pope said that papal resignations should happen in exceptional circumstances, and said quitting was not ‘on [his] agenda’.

Pope Francis has been head of the Catholic Church since March 2013 and recently marked a decade of his papacy.

The Gemelli hospital on March 29, 2023 in Rome. Pope Francis has been at the Gemelli Hospital since the afternoon of March 29, 2023 for some previously scheduled check-ups

In January, the Pope also fuelled speculation he might one day soon step down from the role when he gave a sermon on ‘the virtue of stepping aside at the right time’ and ‘learning to take our leave’.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio would be the second to step down in a little over six centuries if he were to resign.

Only five popes have ‘verifiably’ renounced the position through history, with others disputed.

The most recent was Benedict XVI, who resigned in 2013 and said he was motivated by his declining health due to old age.

Contemporary popes are generally expected to hold the position until their death.

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