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Pope Francis undergoing abdominal surgery in Rome to deal with intestinal issue, Vatican says

Pope Francis is undergoing abdominal surgery Wednesday at a hospital in Rome to treat an intestinal blockage, the Vatican says. 

A statement from the Holy See Press Office said the operation, which was “decided upon over the past few days by the medical team assisting the Holy Father, became necessary due to an incisional laparocele (hernia) that is causing recurrent, painful and worsening sub-occlusive syndromes,” according to Vatican News. 

It said the 86-year-old Francis will “undergo a laparotomy and abdominal wall surgery under general anaesthesia” at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital before staying there a few more days “to allow for a normal post-operative course and full functional recovery.” 

This is the third time Francis has been admitted to the medical facility. 


Pope Francis at general audience

Pope Francis arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square at The Vatican on Wednesday, June 7. (AP/Andrew Medichini)

In July 2021, Francis spent 10 days at Gemelli to remove 13 inches of his large intestine. He had suffered what the Vatican said was a severe inflammation and narrowing of the colon. In an interview with The Associated Press in January, Francis said the diverticulosis, or bulges in his intestinal wall that had prompted the 2021 surgery, had returned. 

The Argentine pope had part of one lung removed when he was a young man. He also suffers from sciatica nerve pain. In late March, Francis spent three days at Gemelli for an acute case of bronchitis, during which he was treated with intravenous antibiotics. He emerged April 1 saying “Still alive!” 


Pope Francis leaves Vatican in car

The car carrying Pope Francis to Gemelli hospital leaves The Vatican on Wednesday. (AP/Andrew Medichini)

Francis first visited the hospital on Tuesday for what the Vatican has described as medical tests. 

The surgery, which is happening in the early afternoon, comes ahead of scheduled trips for Francis to Portugal and Mongolia in August. 

Prior to arriving at the hospital Wednesday, Francis appeared at his weekly general audience at the Vatican. 


Pope Francis prays in front of relics at Vatican

Pope Francis brings a rose before praying in front of the relics of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, universal patroness of missions, left, as he arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square at The Vatican, Wednesday, June 7. (Andrew Medichini)

“On what would have been her 150th birthday, let us ask Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, the patron saint of missions, for the grace to love Jesus as she loved Him, the grace to offer Him our trials and our sorrows, as she did, so that He might be known and loved by all,” read a tweet posted on his Twitter account Wednesday morning. 

Pope Francis also has used a wheelchair and cane for walking assistance due to knee pain, but said last year he didn’t want to have an operation on his knee because the general anesthesia he was put under for the 2021 surgery had disagreeable side effects, according to Reuters. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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