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World News

Pope Francis rushed to hospital as flu symptoms worsen

by Lydia Davies

Pope Francis, who has been battling influenza, was taken to a hospital in Rome this morning, but he returned to the Vatican after just a short time.

This comes after he was admitted for a check-up on Wednesday. 

The 87-year-old had previously skipped his reading at the Wednesday weekly audience, assigning the task to an aide.

The Pope, who has faced several health challenges recently, had also cancelled engagements on Saturday and Monday due to what the Vatican described as a mild flu.

Despite his illness, Pope Francis addressed crowds in St. Peter's Square on Sunday to deliver his Angelus message.

"Dear brothers and sisters, I still have a bit of a cold," Francis acknowledged at the Wednesday audience, before delegating the reading of his catechesis on envy and vainglory, two of the seven deadly sins, to someone else.

The pope managed to speak briefly at the conclusion of the audience, albeit with a hoarse voice and some coughing, to greet attendees and advocate for peace, as is customary.

In December, the pope had to cancel a planned trip to a COP28 climate meeting in Dubai due to influenza and lung inflammation.

In January, he struggled to complete a speech due to "a touch of bronchitis," but later stated that he was improving despite "some aches and pains."

Notably, as a young man in Argentina, Francis underwent surgery to remove part of a lung due to a respiratory infection, and in 2021 had part of his colon removed because of an intestinal inflammation.

Pope Francis has been using a wheelchair and walking stick since last year because of strained knee ligaments and a small knee fracture that have made walking and standing difficult.

On Wednesday, he arrived at his indoor audience in a wheelchair.

This story is still developing, please check back for further updates.


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