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February 25, 2024

Pope Francis forced to cancel Saturday audience due to 'mild' flu

In a development likely to raise concerns among the world's Catholic faithful, Pope Francis was forced to cancel a Saturday audience due to a case of the flu, which the Vatican press office characterized as “mild,” as NBC News reports.

The event that was ultimately scuttled by the pontiff's health issue was a meeting with deacons from Rome, which was scheduled to occur in the morning.

Pope's schedule remains uncertain

Later in the day on Saturday, Matteo Bruni, spokesperson for the Vatican, noted that the status of Francis' Sunday Angelus address remained unconfirmed, adding that no additional updates on the pope's condition were expected to emerge over the following several hours.

At 87-years of age, Pope Francis' health has been a topic of much speculation and worry in recent years, with some engaging in intense speculation that he could step down from his role at any time.

As recently as November, Francis also had to cancel audiences scheduled for a Saturday morning due to what was characterized as a mild fever, as the Washington Times reported.

During that bout of what was later declared to be the flu, Francis was taken to Rome's Gemelli hospital for a series of tests, which were said to have ruled out serious respiratory concerns.

History of health woes

In March of last year, Francis was taken by ambulance to the very same hospital when he experienced difficulty breathing, and though he was ultimately diagnosed with a non-COVID- infection, worries about his future as the leader of the Catholic church reared their heads once more.

Recent years have seen the pope making use of a wheelchair during certain public appearances, something that has been attributed to mobility issues resulting from knee problems for which he does not desire surgical intervention.

Back in 2021, Francis underwent surgery on his colon in hopes of tackling persistent issues with diverticulitis.

The fact that Pope Francis, during his younger years, had a portion of one lung removed, has lent an additional air of urgency and caution whenever the specter of a flu or other respiratory condition emerges, something that surely made Saturday's revelation all the more alarming to close observers.

Accepting his limitations

As the Daily Mail reported last year, Pope Francis acknowledged the challenges of his advancing age and pledged to step down from his post if he became too tired to continue at the level expected of him.

In prior comments on the subject, Francis said, “It is easy to become attached to roles and positions, to the need to be esteemed, recognized and rewarded. It is good to cultivate, like John, the virtue of setting ourselves aside at the right moment, bearing witness that the point of reference of life is Jesus,” suggesting that the time of his departure has been on the pope's mind for quite some time.

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