Pope Francis is suffering from a respiratory infection and needs to be hospitalized for a few days. This was announced by the spokesman for the Holy See, Matteo Bruni, on Wednesday evening. The 86-year-old pontiff was taken to Rome’s Gemelli Clinic in the afternoon, where tests revealed the finding. It’s not about Corona, the spokesman said. The infection requires “a few days” of inpatient therapy in the university clinic. It remains unclear when Francis will return to the Vatican – where the Easter celebrations will be next week.

Spokesman Bruno initially claimed that Francis had been taken to the hospital “for some planned examinations”. Various media such as the news agencies Ansa and Adnkronos and the newspapers “Il Fatto Quotidiano” and “Corriere della Sera” reported afterwards that all of Francis’ appointments and audiences this Thursday and Friday were canceled. The Holy Father was touched by the many messages he received and thanks for the prayers, the Vatican statement said.

The South American held his weekly general audience on St. Peter’s Square in front of thousands of believers on Wednesday morning. After that, a television interview was actually planned. Francis had to cancel and was taken to the polyclinic in an ambulance instead. Several camera teams, reporters and photographers posted themselves there in the evening and looked at the room on the tenth floor where the pontiff is staying.

No conspicuous findings

Because of the concern of heart disease, among other things, computed tomography and tests for oxygen saturation of the blood were carried out, according to media reports. However, there were no conspicuous findings, reported Ansa and Adnkronos, referring to informed people in the healthcare system. Already in the afternoon caregivers and security guards were informed that the pope would have to stay in the hospital for at least one night.

The reports contradicted the first official statement from the Vatican, according to which the controls were “planned”. Observers in Rome had rated it as very unusual that the Pope is said to have planned extensive investigations so shortly before Palm Sunday and the Holy Week before Easter.

In July 2021, the Argentine had an operation on his intestines at the Gemelli Hospital. At that time he spent eleven days in the hospital. In a recent interview, he indicated that he was having problems with his intestines again. For more than a year he has also suffered from a severe knee problem, which usually forces him into a wheelchair. Francis has so far refused a knee operation – as was heard in the Vatican, he had not tolerated the anesthetic during the operation on the intestine.