Recovering Pope Speaks at Hospital

In appearance during recovery from surgery, Francis stresses need for free health care
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 11, 2021 10:25 AM CDT
Crowd Hears Pope on Hospital Balcony
A crowd listens to Pope Francis on Sunday outside the Agostino Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome.   (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Pope Francis led prayers before a Rome crowd Sunday as he does every week, albeit from a different balcony this time. "I am happy to be able to keep the Sunday appointment of the Angelus, even here from the Gemelli Polyclinic," the pope said from a balcony on the 10th floor of a university hospital where he's recovering from intestinal surgery, CNN reports. He thanked the hospital staff caring for him in particular and talked about the importance of the health care system in general—"free health care, that assures good service, accessible to everyone," Francis told the crowd of hundreds. "This precious benefit must not be lost. It needs to be kept!" The pope stood while speaking, using a lectern for support, per NPR, and appeared with several children who are patients. He also said he's been praying for Haiti, whose president was assassinated last week.

The Vatican has not disclosed when the pope, 84, will leave the hospital, but a spokesman said he is recovering from the surgery, walking and starting to resume work, and described his blood test results as satisfactory. The procedure on July 4 removed much of his colon that had narrowed after becoming inflamed. Colon diverticulitis is common and usually brings no symptoms, though the Vatican had said the pope was symptomatic. He led the Angelus prayer and gave his blessing in St. Peter's Square that day before reporting for surgery, the first time he's been publicly known to be admitted to a hospital since he took office in 2013. "I have deeply felt your closeness and the support of your prayers," Francis told the crowd Sunday, per the BBC. "Thank you from the bottom of my heart." (More Pope Francis stories.)

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