International News

Pope Responding to Treatment for Bronchitis, Vatican Says

Pope Francis’ suite sits on the top floor of Rome’s Gemelli hospital, whose entrance is pictured here, March 30, 2023. The pope was admitted to the hospital March 29 due to concerns over breathing difficulties and was diagnosed with a “respiratory infection,” according to the Vatican. (Photo: OSV News)

By Elise Ann Allen

ROME (CRUX) — At the end of Pope Francis’ first full day in Rome’s Gemelli Hospital, where he is being treated for bronchitis, the Vatican said he is doing well and is responding to treatment, and spent his afternoon resting and in prayer.

In a statement late Thursday evening, the Vatican said Pope Francis spent his afternoon “dedicating himself to rest, prayer, and some work duties.”

According to information provided by the pope’s medical team, he was diagnosed with an “infectious bronchitis” and he is being treated with antibiotics that are being administered through an IV.

So far, the antibiotic treatment “produced the expected effects with a clear improvement” in the state of the pope’s health.

Should he continue to respond well to treatment, the Vatican said it is possible that Pope Francis will be discharged sometime “in the next few days.”

Pope Francis was admitted to Rome’s Gemelli Hospital, where popes are traditionally treated and where a private apartment is permanently reserved for papal use, Wednesday afternoon after experiencing respiratory troubles.

Earlier on Thursday the Vatican said Pope Francis rested well overnight and spent his morning reading some newspapers, working, and praying.

His last stay at Gemelli Hospital was in 2021 following an invasive colon surgery, which left him in the hospital for 11 days before returning to the Vatican.

Pope Francis also suffers from a variety of other chronic conditions, including sciatica and knee pain that has largely confined him to the use of a wheelchair or a cane since last May. He also had part of one lung removed due to a severe bout of pneumonia when he was young.

It is unclear if the pope will be discharged in time for his scheduled Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square to kick off Holy Week, or whether he will be in a condition to celebrate his Holy Week liturgies if he is discharged in time.

In the past when he has been unable to make it through an entire papal liturgy, Pope Francis has tapped either Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin or Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, dean of the College of Cardinals, to celebrate the ceremonies while he presides from a chair off to the side.