Pope recovery going well but will skip Sunday blessing

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Pope Francis’s recovery from surgery is going well but doctors advised him not to deliver his Sunday blessing from a hospital balcony so as not to put strain on his abdominal walls. Briefing reporters at the Gemelli hospital on Saturday, chief surgeon Sergio Alfieri also said the 86-year-old pope had agreed to doctors’ suggestions that he remain there for at least all of next week.

Francis underwent a three-hour operation to repair an abdominal hernia on Wednesday. Alfieri said that in 2021, the last time the pope underwent surgery at the same hospital, he did deliver his blessing standing from the balcony, but it was about seven days after the intestinal operation.

“Each time he gets out of bed and sits in an armchair puts stress on the abdominal walls. Only three days have passed. We asked the Holy Father to be prudent and avoid the strain (of standing at the balcony),” he said.

He said the pope was taken off intravenous tubes on Friday and was now on a semi-solid diet. All medical parameters were within the norm and there were no cardiac problems.

Portugal, Mongolia Trips Still On Schedule

Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni said the pope would say Sunday’s traditional noon Angelus prayer in his hospital suite and the faithful could say it at the same time.

Alfieri said the pope was taken off intravenous tubes on Friday and had started a semi-liquid diet. All medical parameters were within the norm, there were no cardiac problems and complete healing of the abdominal scars would take about three months, he added.

The Vatican said blood test results were good and chestX-rays showed no problems. Francis had part of one lung removed because of an illness when he was 21-year-old in his native Argentina. Doctors had said after the operation that the pope should have no limitations on travels and other activities after recovery.

He has trips to Portugal on Aug. 2-6 for World Youth Day and to visit the Shrine of Fatima, and to Mongolia Aug.31-Sept. 4, one of the remotest places he will have visited.

Bruni reiterated that all audiences had been cancelled until June 18 but after that the pope’s schedule would remain for now. The pope traditionally takes all of July off, with the Sunday blessings being his only public appearance, so he will have the entire month to rest before the Portugal trip.