Pope Francis was admitted to hospital this week with a respiratory infection, and continues to receive treatment.

The health of the 86-year-old Pontiff has been the source of speculation for some time, with some suggesting that he is considering resignation – which he has denied.

According to the Vatican, his health his improving during his stay at Rome’s Gemelli hospital – here’s all we know about his condition.

What is the latest on the Pope’s health?

On Thursday, the Vatican said that the Pope’s health is improving after he was admitted to hospital – he has resumed working while his treatment continues.

“His Holiness Pope Francis rested well during the night. His clinical picture is gradually improving and he is continuing his planned treatment,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said.

He added: “This morning after breakfast, he read some newspapers and resumed work.”

Pope Francis talks with a woman at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at The Vatican, Wednesday, March 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
The Pope alternates between using a cane and a wheelchair for public appearances (Photo: AP)

The statement added that Francis had prayed in the small chapel within his private hospital suite, indicating that he was not confined to his bed.

However, no information was given on when the Pontiff would leave hospital.

In a separate message on Thursday, the Pope wrote on Twitter: “I am touched by the many messages received in these hours and I express my gratitude for the closeness and prayer.”

The Pope had part of one lung removed in his early 20s when training to be a priest in Argentina, and is sometimes short of breath and exposed to respiratory problems.

He also suffers from diverticulitis, a condition that can infect or inflame the colon – he had an operation in 2021 to remove part of his colon. Francis said in January that this condition had returned, but that he was not overly concerned.

The Pope also has a problem with his right knee that means he alternates between using a cane and a wheelchair for public appearances.

Why was Pope Francis taken to hospital?

Pope Francis was admitted to hospital on Wednesday 29 March with a respiratory infection after complaining of breathing difficulties.

Earlier that day, he had appeared in good form at his regular, weekly audience, joking with bishops, hugging a young girl and letting a group of children ride with him in his open-top popemobile.

After tests revealed his infection, the Vatican said he was expected to spend a “few days” in hospital – he tested negative for Covid-19.

This called into question his participation during the upcoming Holy Week of Easter, one of the busiest periods in the Church calendar, which kicks off with Palm Sunday on 2 April.

His latest hospitalisation has revived speculation over a possible resignation on health grounds, following the historic precedent of his predecessor Benedict XVI, who died in December.

However, Francis has indicated he would follow the example only if he were gravely incapacitated.

When asked earlier this month what condition would lead him to quit, he said: “A tiredness that doesn’t let you see things clearly. A lack of clarity, of knowing how to evaluate situations.”

Additional reporting from agencies

By admin