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Pope Francis appears at Vatican window two weeks after surgery

by Press Association
pope-new-year-message-main_galleryfull.jpg - Banner image
Picture from Pope Francis' New Year Message

Two weeks after surgery that removed a portion of his colon, Pope Francis has resumed his weekly appearances from a Vatican window to bless the faithful in St Peter’s Square.

Francis, 84, sounded cheerful but somewhat winded at one point while speaking for 14 minutes on Sunday.

Exactly a week earlier, he had delivered the blessing from a hospital balcony and expressed deep gratitude to all medical staff caring for him. The pontiff underwent bowel surgery on July 4 to remove a portion of his colon after intestinal narrowing.

While not mentioning his own ongoing convalescence, Francis in his remarks stressed the value of taking a break. He recommended “rest, contemplation and compassion. Let’s take advantage of summertime for this.”

After giving his blessing, Francis cited some sombre current events. He expressed closeness to those “hit by catastrophic floods,” which claimed at least 180 lives, in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. “May the Lord welcome the deceased and comfort the family members,” the pope said.

He also lamented violence in South Africa, where more than 200 people died in chaos and violence sparked by the imprisonment of a former president.

Francis noted South Africans have already been suffering economic and health difficulties caused by the pandemic. He said he was making a heartfelt appeal for efforts for peace and so that assistance reaches the needy.

“May the desire that has guided the people of South Africa to be reborn in harmony among all its children not be forgotten,” Francis said.

Among the cheering public in St Peter’s Square were around 100 Cuban residents of Rome who displayed a banner urging support for protesters in their homeland.

“I am near to the dear Cuban people in these difficult moments, especially to the families who are suffering more,” Francis said.

He added: “I pray that the Lord help them to build an ever more just and fraternal society in peace, dialogue and solidarity.”

Toward the end of his remarks from a window of the Apostolic Palace, adlibbing at times and after interrupting himself once to cough, Francis sounded a bit winded. But he ended with a strong, cheery invitation to the crowd as he always does to “have a good lunch” and to pray for him.

The crowd of several hundred clapped loudly. Some held national flags and at least one home-made banner, with a red heart and “I Love You” in Italian written on it.

After 10 days in the major Catholic hospital in Rome, Francis returned to his home in Vatican City on July 14.

Except for the Angelus noon appointment on Sundays, the pontiff has no other public appearances scheduled for the rest of July.

Even before his surgery was announced, the Vatican had said that his weekly general audiences on Wednesdays would not take place during July. That is in keeping with past years of his papacy, which allow him a bit of a summer break.

Hours before heading to the hospital for surgery, Francis announced that he would visit Hungary and Slovakia in mid-September.

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