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Vatican Observer Cites Concerns About Pope’s Health Ahead of Israel Visit

© TIZIANA FABI / AFP

Vatican City : Pope Francis greets an handicapped person after his general audience in St Peter's Square at the Vatican on May 14, 2014. AFP PHOTO / TIZIANA FABI

Aleteia - published on 05/21/14

With only one lung, demanding schedule may be catching up with Francis

Operating on one lung, aging, keeping up a demanding schedule–all these factors may be contributing to what one Vatican journalist suggests may be a serious health concern for Pope Francis.

Edward Pentin, writing at Newsmax today, says Vatican insiders are raising questions about the Pope’s health–a concern complicated by his impending trip to the Holy Land this weekend.

“Some in the Holy See are beginning to openly discuss concerns about Francis’ condition and asking if the Holy Father is overtaxing himself,” Pentin writes.

“Close observers are noting that the Pope’s physical body may be failing to keep up with his youthful energy and vigor, especially considering he only has one fully functioning lung,” the journalist says, explaining that as a young boy in Argentina, Jorge Mario Bergolio suffered an infection which led surgeons to remove most of one lung.

Pentin notes that the 77-year-old Pope has cancelled a number of appointments recently, citing health reasons.
“Although planned months ago, the Pope last week put off a visit slated for May 18 to the Marian shrine of Divino Amore in the suburbs of Rome. The reason given was to ‘lighten the commitments’ of the Pope ahead of his Holy Land visit, but further cancellations followed that weekend owing to a cold,” Pentin writes, citing other cancellations as well:

  • On Feb. 28, Francis called off a visit to Rome’s Major Seminary due to a "light fever."
  • In early December, he felt compelled to cancel, at the last minute, a meeting at the Vatican with Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, who came with a delegation from Expo 2015. The Vatican said the Holy Father had "expressed fatigue" after a general audience in St. Peter’s Square in which he had greeted the faithful for nearly three hours.

And it’s given rise to talk. Some close to the Pope have said they notice he has difficulty breathing, Pentin says. And Indian Cardinal Telesphore Placidus Toppo, archbishop of Ranchi, told the Italian daily Libero that he concelebrated Mass with the Pope for a few days last summer and found him “very tired and fatigued,” the reporter says. "I honestly do not know how long he might be able to sustain this pace that he’s certainly not accustomed to," Cardinal Toppo said.
And last September, the Argentine magazine Noticias reported that the Pope’s personal physician in Argentina had said he was "concerned" about his patient’s health, Petin reports.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi is playing down the concern, according to Pentin. The visit to Divino Amore would be "very challenging" given Francis’ usual wish to meet so many people and groups. "I think he thought: ‘Well, we can do all that another time,’ and that shouldn’t be considered a cause for concern," he said.

Tags:
Health and WellnessPopePope FrancisVatican
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