Pope Francis’ health appears improved during visit to Rome parish

By Thomson Reuters Mar 8, 2024 | 12:19 PM

ROME (Reuters) – Pope Francis’ health appeared to have improved on Friday as he presided at a ritual at a Rome parish without the signs of fatigue from a bout of bronchitis that forced him to limit activities over the past two weeks.

Francis seemed more or less back to normal during a visit of several hours to the Rome church of St. Pius V, not far from the Vatican.

He read his homily on the theme of forgiveness – instead of delegating an aide to speak for him as he has mostly done since late February – and improvised much of it.

Francis urged priests not to be severe when hearing confessions of the faithful and not to pry too much into a person’s private life.

Francis heard the confessions of about 10 people during the service and at the end stopped to chat from his wheelchair with dozens of participants, showing no signs of discomfort.

The 87-year-old Francis’ recent bout with flu and bronchitis began on Feb. 24 when he was forced to cancel meetings for several days.

For much of the past two weeks aides read his addresses for him after he made brief introductions explaining that he was tired.

On Feb. 28 Francis went to a hospital near the Vatican for checks that medical sources said included a CT scan.

As a young man in his native Argentina, Francis had part of a lung removed.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Ros Russell)