Pope Francis hospitalized in Rome

The 86-year-old pope has not been infected with COVID-19, however, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement Wednesday evening local time.

This is the first hospitalization for Pope Francis since he spent 10 days in Rome’s Gemelli Hospital in July 2021 to have 33 centimeters removed from his colon.

The Holy Father’s recent admission to hospital has raised questions about his overall health and his ability to celebrate the many events of Holy Week which is due to begin this weekend with Palm Sunday.

Mr Bruni claimed the pontiff had been suffering from respiratory ailments in recent days and had gone to Gemelli Hospital for tests.

The examinations “revealed a respiratory infection (not related to COVID-19) which will require appropriate hospital medical treatment for a few days,” the statement read.

Pope Francis appeared to be in relatively good shape at his scheduled general audience earlier on Wednesday, although he grimaced heavily as he entered and exited the “Popemobile”.

The pontiff had part of a lung removed when he was young due to a respiratory infection, which means he often speaks in a low voice. During the worst times of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were never any reports of him contracting the virus.

Pope Francis was due to celebrate Palm Sunday this weekend, kicking off the Vatican’s Holy Week celebrations. He has canceled all hearings until Friday, but it was not immediately clear whether he will be able to take part in Holy Week activities.

The Holy Father has been using a wheelchair for over a year due to strained ligaments in his right knee and a small broken knee. He mentioned that the injury was healing, which has allowed him to walk more often with a cane lately.

Pope Francis also said he resisted surgery for knee problems because he did not respond well to general anesthesia during bowel surgery in 2021.

He said shortly after the operation that he made a full recovery and could eat normally.

In an interview last January with The Associated Press, however, the pope said his intestinal diverticulosis, or bulges in the intestinal wall, had “come back.”