Pope Francis has been hospitalized with a respiratory infection, the Vatican said

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ROME – Pope Francis has been having trouble breathing in recent days and is being treated for a respiratory infection at the Gemelli Hospital in Rome, the Vatican said in a statement.

He does not have Covid-19 and is expected to spend “a few days” in the hospital, the statement said. His schedule for the weekend was cleared.

Francis, 86, who was missing part of a lung after undergoing surgery as a teenager, receives an examination. The Vatican said he was “touched” by the messages of support and prayers he had received.

What does it mean to be 86, as Francis marks a decade as Pope?

Earlier on Wednesday, Francis gave his Weekly Public Audience Address The Vatican in St. Peter’s Square. The announcement of Francis’ treatment comes two weeks before Easter Sunday, a busy time of important ceremonies and duties for the pope.

The 10th anniversary of his pontificate was earlier this month. In the past 500 years, only three popes have reached the age of 86 while in office.

The Pope appeared weak at times. Last year, he began using a wheelchair after experiencing persistent knee pain. In 2021 he underwent surgery to remove part of his left colon. Last July, after a trip to Canada, Francis sparked speculation that he might follow his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. The Pope will step down in 600 years.

“At my age and in this range I think I should save [my energies up] Think about the possibility of serving the church a bit or, conversely, standing aside. I say this with complete sincerity,” he said. “It’s not a disaster. “It is possible to change the Pope,” he said.

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But in the months since, Francis has continued to carry out papal duties, including last month on a six-day trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan, where he demonstrated the extraordinary energy of his legions of admirers. “I believe that the ministry of the Pope is ad vitam [for life]He told a gathering of Jesuits there. The Jesuit periodical La Civilta reported. “I see no reason why it shouldn’t be.”

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