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priest "Slowly improving" Hospital in Rome from chest infection

ROME – The Vatican said Thursday that Pope Francis had “rested well” overnight after becoming Hospitalized for respiratory infectionand that “his clinical picture is gradually improving and he is continuing his planned treatment.”

“This morning after breakfast, he read some newspapers and resumed work. Before lunch, he went to the small chapel of the private (hospital) apartment where he prayed and he received the Eucharist,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement.

The Vatican said late Wednesday that the pope had checked into Rome’s Gemelli Hospital with respiratory complaints and that the 86-year-old pontiff would require several days of treatment at the facility. According to the Vatican, he does not have Covid-19.

Francis’ hospitalization brought an outpouring of sympathy from around the world, including President Biden, who urged people to “say an extra prayer for him,” CBS News correspondent Chris Livesey reported.


Pope Francis meets with children at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on March 29, 2023.

Alessandra Tarantino/AP

Just hours before being admitted for treatment, the Pope appeared to be in good health during his general audience in St Peter’s Square as he greeted the faithful, but was later seen writhing in pain as he climbed into the “popemobile”.

Since tearing knee ligaments last year, Francis often relies on a wheelchair to get around. When he walks, he has a pronounced limp. Mobility problems forced him to cancel both Vatican celebrations and foreign trips.

The Vatican Pope

Pope Francis is helped back to his car at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on March 29, 2023.

Alessandra Tarantino/AP

Outside Gemelli Hospital, trustees have kept vigil since Francis was admitted, as they did in 2021, when he was hospitalized for 10 days for colon surgery. He was treated for diverticulitis, a painful condition which, Francis revealed in January, had returned.

Health problems have fueled persistent rumors that Francis, now a decade into his papacy, may decide to step down, as his predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict did.

CBS News Vatican consultant Father Anthony Figueiredo told us recently, however, that Francis “has certainly made it clear — unless he’s prevented from being pope, maybe by some minor difficulty, some illness of the mind, he’ll continue to be that pope.”

Earlier this year, Francis became the first pope in modern history to preside over the funeral of his predecessor.

Francis championed Benedict’s “courageous” decision to retire at 85, a year younger than the current head of the Catholic Church.

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