Pope Francis leaves hospital, says ‘I’m still alive’ Reuters


© Reuters. Pope Francis waves from a car as he leaves Rome’s Gemelli Hospital in Rome, Italy, April 1, 2023. REUTERS/Remo Casilli


Remo Casilli

ROME (Reuters) – Pope Francis left hospital and returned to the Vatican on Saturday after being treated for bronchitis, downplaying his illness by saying: “I’m still alive, you know.”

The pope, 86, was taken to Rome’s Gemelli Hospital on Wednesday after complaining of breathing difficulties but responded quickly to an antibiotic infusion, his medical team said.

Wanting to show that he was fully recovered, Francis got out of his car before leaving the hospital grounds, using a walking stick.

He greeted the well-wishers and spoke briefly with the journalists who were waiting for him, confirming that he will lead the Palm Sunday service in St. Peter’s Square and give his usual weekly address to the faithful.

The Sunday service begins the week of Easter events, and the Vatican subsequently announced that the pope will participate in these celebrations with the support of the cardinals.

Before getting back into the car, Francis hugged a tearful mother, whose young daughter died overnight in hospital, then prayed with both parents.

He also signed a cast of a boy with a broken arm and waved to him through the car window as he drove.

When asked by a journalist if he was afraid during his stay in the hospital, the Pope said: “No, no fear.”

“There is a lot of heroism in the hospital, a lot of tenderness towards the patients. You know sick people, we are capricious. With illness comes capriciousness. You have to be patient,” he said, praising the work of all hospital employees. Gemelli.

I went to the children’s ward and saw how tenderly they cared for the children, he said.

“Now I have to sleep for four days,” he joked after answering various questions.

The pope, who marked the 10th anniversary of his pontificate in March, has suffered from a series of illnesses in recent years.

The last time he was hospitalized was in 2021 for colon surgery, but on that occasion he was hidden from view as he left Gemelli.

It’s a testing week ahead as the Roman Catholic Church prepares for the most important date on its calendar — Easter Sunday, April 9 — with a series of ceremonies, services and processions.

The dean of the college of cardinals, Giovanni Battista Re, has already said that one cardinal will assist the pope during the weekly celebrations and take care of altar duties.

A similar arrangement was put in place last year, when the pope sat on the sidelines during some Easter events due to persistent knee pain, leaving senior cardinals to lead the masses.

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