Pope Francis, suffering from "pneumonia," appeared in the church of his residence rather than in St. Peter Square as an assistant read the pontiff's Sunday message. The 86-year-old pope, wearing his traditional white robes and a bandage on his right hand, sat next to the assistant during the reading. “Brothers and sisters, happy Sunday. Today I can't go to the window because I have this problem with inflammation in my lungs," said Francis.
Francis visited a Rome hospital on Saturday for tests that the Vatican said ruled out any lung problems after the flu forced him to cancel events. The Vatican did not provide an explanation for the apparent difference between its statement on Saturday and the pope's on Sunday.
Part of one of the pope's lungs was removed when Francis was a young man in his native Argentina. Francis brought in a priest, Father Paolo Braida, who then read the pope's Sunday message based on the Gospel. Francis coughed several times while studying. The Pope gave the blessing, and Braida also read other messages, including a call for peace in Ukraine, thanks for the release of some detainees in Gaza, and confirmation of the Pope's intention to go to Dubai on Friday to attend the United Nations conference on climate change.
Francis ended with his traditional closing words: “I wish everyone a good Sunday. Please don't forget to pray for me. Have a nice lunch and see you next time.”
The event was broadcast on a big screen in front of the crowd gathered in the park. "We were under the window where it should have come out, but it didn't," said tourist Francesco Sinisgalli from Potenza, southern Italy. "I'm a little bit disappointed, but in my soul, it's still there."
Staying at home prevented the pope from leaving for a short trip to the Apostolic Palace on a cold morning in Rome in late November. He must have gotten into the car, driven to the courtyard, and taken the elevator to the top of the palace to reach the window facing St. Peter.
Earlier this month, Francis stopped reading a speech prepared for a meeting with European rabbis because he had a cold, but appeared in good health during a meeting with children a few hours later in the day. In June, he underwent surgery for a stomach ulcer and spent nine days in the hospital. He seems to have recovered well from this project.