Pope Francis: why is he hospitalized?

Pope Francis.

Pope Francis: why is he hospitalized?

Pope Francis. This Wednesday, March 29, 2023, Pope Francis was hospitalized in Rome for scheduled medical examinations. What is the health of the sovereign pontiff?

[Updated March 29, 4:50 p.m.] Pope Francis was admitted to hospital on Wednesday, March 29, but the faithful can rest assured the pontiff is fine. At 86, the Church representative had to perform medical checks and honor "previously scheduled" appointments at Rome's Gemelli Hospital, according to a statement issued by the director of the Holy See's press service, Matteo Burnished. If the nature of the examinations has not been specified, professional secrecy obliges, nothing seems to reflect a deterioration in the health of Pope Francis. The proof is: before being hospitalized, he assured the weekly general audience and greeted the crowds of pilgrims, notes Vatican News.

This is perhaps the most publicized subject around the sovereign pontiff. Wherever he goes, his state of health is scrutinized, in particular since July 2021, the date of his colon operation. "It was not a planned intervention, and the doctors at the Gemelli hospital in Rome would have liked to keep the pope under longer observation," explained an Italian daily. The pope suffered from a potentially painful inflammation of the diverticula, hernias or pockets that form on the walls of the digestive tract and the frequency of which increases with age. One of the possible complications of this condition is stenosis, which is a narrowing of the intestine. The Vatican had indicated that the operation had taken place normally. However, rumors have been circulating actively since this operation, some being convinced that cancer was discovered in him during this colon operation. On July 2, during an interview with Reuters, Pope Francis brushed aside these "court gossip".

The pope also suffered a broken knee, which was quickly treated with laser and magnet therapy. However, the 85-year-old Argentine pontiff now still uses a wheelchair or cane and has to use a platform lift to board because of leftover knee pain. As a result, his travel schedule is lightened: for this stay in Canada in particular, there will never be more than two public meetings per day, with meetings or masses which should not last more than an hour, 1h30 maximum. On the day of his arrival, Sunday July 24, the pope spent the day resting, his advisers having preferred that his program for the week be lighter. His state of fatigue should therefore remain a matter of concern for Catholics around the world.

The sovereign pontiff should remain at the head of the Vatican for some time. If joint pain may have hindered his movements, especially when he was forced to postpone a trip to Africa scheduled for early July, he would still be able to perform his duties. Questioned by Reuters on July 2 at his residence Sainte-Marthe, in the Vatican, he had denied the rumors around his future resignation due to health problems. Apart from a "small fracture" in the knee already treated, Pope Francis had swept away the "court gossip" concerning a cancer which would have been discovered during his colon operation in July 2021. Assuring that he himself could give up his office if his health ever prevented him from leading the Church, he had insisted that the problem did not arise immediately: "It never crossed my mind. For the moment, no, at the moment, no. Really!". Far from giving up therefore, he would even be on the verge of going to Russia and Ukraine on his return from his stay in Canada... We take stock of the agenda and the health of the spiritual leader of the 1.3 billion Catholics .

Short biography of Pope Francis - Real name Jorge Mario Bergoglio, he was born on December 17, 1936 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After having been Archbishop of Buenos Aires and Cardinal, he was elected Pope of the Catholic Church on March 13, 2013. Succeeding Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, known as "the Pope of the poor", becomes the 266th Pope and is also the first non-European pope since the 13th century.

Pope Francis, who turned 85 last year, reached the age Benedict XVI was when he resigned his pontificate eight years after his accession for health reasons. And it would seem that some are convinced of the imminence of his departure. Already in August 2021, the newspaper Libero Quotidiano published a "scoop" article which presented the pope as "ready to resign". If the information had not been confirmed by any official source, this potential departure had been taken very seriously, causing a stir in his community. During an interview with Spanish radio COPE last August, he finally denied the rumors of a possible conclave. "I don't know where they heard last week that I was going to resign... the idea didn't even cross my mind." Rebelotte this year, during which rumors of a departure being prepared circulated around the world. The sovereign pontiff was thus forced to reassure his faithful on numerous occasions, as evidenced by the interview he gave to Reuters on July 2 at his Saint Martha residence, in the Vatican: questioned about his potential resignation, he simply stated, "That never crossed my mind. Right now, no, right now, no. Really!", before concluding, "We don't know. God will tell"?

The child of Italian immigrants, Pope Francis has two brothers and two sisters, but only Maria Elena is still alive when she was elected papal. On December 25, 1936, he was baptized by Father Enrique Pozzoli, who later became his spiritual director. In 1949 he studied at the "Wilfrid Baron" Salesian College in the city of Ramos Mejia, then obtained a diploma as a chemical technician at the E.N.E.T. . Meanwhile, to support himself, he cleans a local factory and is also a bouncer in a poorly attended nightclub in Cordoba (Argentina). Then engaged to a young woman, he is in deep reflection which leads him to break his engagement and take orders. Indeed, he frequented the San José church in the Flores district (Buenos Aires) then, in 1953, he rubbed shoulders with the experience of "the mercy of God", during a confession, and had "a divine revelation to enter into orders “, quotes AFP. In fact, on March 11, 1958, he began a novitiate in the Society of Jesus. He continued his spiritual formation in Chile, then returned to Buenos Aires in 1963 to study philosophy. The young man taught literature for a while in a college in Santa Fe and then in Buenos Aires. Jorge then studied theology at San Miguel. On December 13, 1969, Monsignor Ramon José Castellano, Archbishop of Cordoba, ordained him a priest.

In 1971 and 1972, the future Pope Francis did his Third Year (third year of formation for a Jesuit) in Alcala de Henares, Spain. He was then appointed novice master of the Colegio Maximo San José, a Jesuit institution in San Miguel, and on April 22, 1973, he made solemn profession. On July 31, 1973, he was appointed provincial (he has authority over the Jesuits and the ministries in his area) of the Jesuits of Argentina for six years. After the dictatorship from 1976 to 1983, he became rector of the faculty of theology and philosophy of San Miguel, while remaining professor of theology. At the same time, he was parish priest of Saint Joseph de San Miguel. Through his homilies, the future Pope Francis does a bit of politics, denouncing the corruption of politicians and the crisis of values ​​in the country. Afterwards, he has problems with his order, because of his way of running the school. He therefore went to Germany, to Frankfurt, to write a thesis at the Faculty of Philosophy and Theology of Sankt Georgen. Not being at ease, he returned to Argentina, where he became a neighborhood priest and confessor in Cordoba.

On May 20, 1992, the future Pope Francis was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires by Pope John Paul II, at the age of 55. On June 3, 1997, he was made coadjutor of the same archdiocese. The following year, on February 28, he became Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, following the death of Cardinal Antonio Quarracino. Then on February 21, 2001, he was instituted cardinal-priest by John Paul II with the title cardinalice, which linked him to the Roman clergy and in fact to the clergy of the pope, bishop of Rome, of San Roberto Bellarmino. In 2005, he would have been in the race to be elected pope, but the choice ultimately fell to Joseph Ratzinger, who became Benedict XVI. Cardinal Bergoglio is elected president of the drafting commission of the final document, called the "Aparecida document", during the V general conference of the Latin American Episcopal Council which took place at the sanctuary of Aparecida in Brazil, on May 15 2007. As president of the Argentine Bishops' Conference, he made his "ad limina" visit (a visit that bishops must make every five years to Rome) on March 14, 2009. Jorge Bergoglio is also a member of the Congregation for institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life, of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, of the Congregation for the Clergy, of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and of the Pontifical Council for the Family, within the Roman Curia.

The role of the future Pope Francis in the military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983 in Argentina remains unclear. In 2005, the journalist and director of the daily "Pagina 12", Horacio Verbitsky, published "El Silencio" and launched the controversy. Indeed, he accuses Jorge Mario Bergoglio of having collaborated with the junta and of not having tried to free Franz Jalics and Orlando Yorio, two Jesuits who were working under his orders at that time. The controversy is revived when Jorge Mario Bergoglio is elected pope. The accusations are denied the next day by the Vatican Information Service. There are currently no documents that would link the pope with the military dictatorship, and then, according to the Vatican, numerous testimonies prove that Father Bergoglio protected these people. For Franz Jalics, one of the two Jesuits, after talking with Bergoglio and concelebrating a fraternal Mass, the story is over. Yet the involvement of the future Pope Francis is still controversial. But the sociologist from the University of Buenos Aires, Mallimacci Fortunato notably argued in the Argentinian press that "witnesses declared that Bergoglio not only did not fight against the dictatorship, but that he even contributed to the kidnapping , the torture or the disappearance of many priests and lay people". Claims that have never been proven.

On February 11, 2013, Benedict XVI renounced his title as pope. On March 12, 2013, a conclave met to elect a new pope. The next day, Jorge Mario Bergoglio is elected, the traditional white smoke appears at 7:06 p.m., and the six bells of the basilica begin to ring. Pontificate under the sign of simplicity, he is the first pope to appear on the balcony without liturgical ornament. Located in the balcony of the Blessings Box in St. Peter's Basilica, the new pope makes his first apostolic blessing "urbi et orbi" ("To the city and to the world") and adds: "The cardinals went to get me at end of the world". Then he prays for Benedict XVI, appointing him "bishop emeritus" and recites the "Our Father", the "Hail Mary" and "Glory to the Father" in Italian. Finally, he asks the silence and a prayer for him before giving his blessing again. During his inaugural audience, he received Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the President of Argentina, who spoke to him about the situation with the United Kingdom, concerning Peter's Square in the Vatican on March 19, 2013, Pope Francis receives the papal insignia and then performs his first "Inauguration Mass of the Bishop of Rome. Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople , is present for the first time since 1054 and the Great Eastern Schism.

The life of Pope Francis is marked by austerity, he gets up at 4:30 a.m. and ends his day at 9 p.m. The pope is described as a shy, humble, restrained man. A religious person who is not expansive, preferring modesty. He willingly shuns ostentation and is faithful to his great cause: poverty. Indeed, when he was appointed archbishop in 1998 in Argentina, the future pope favored life in a modest apartment rather than in a sumptuous palace, to which he was nevertheless entitled. He then travels by public transport. Likewise, when he was made a cardinal priest in 2001 by John Paul II, he simply went to this ceremony on foot. On this occasion, he refuses that his compatriots come to Rome and orders that the money collected to pay for the plane tickets be distributed to the poor. At Francisco Muniz Hospital in Buenos Aires, he washed the feet of twelve sick AIDS patients, telling the press that "society forgets the sick and the poor". Moreover, during his career in Argentina, Jorge Bergoglio regularly traveled to the slums, in search of misery. He even settled there for a time, to support a priest threatened by drug traffickers. What quickly take the nickname of "pope of the poor". These anecdotes also echo his first days as pope. Indeed, on the evening of his election, March 13, 2013, Pope Francis refused to get into a car with driver, preferring to slip into the minibus borrowed by the cardinals to go to the house of Saint Martha. The name chosen by the 266th pope, "Francis", is not insignificant. It refers in particular to Saint Francis of Assisi, this monk of Italian origin who, from a wealthy family, had chosen poverty, mingling with lepers and going so far as to give alms.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio chooses to become a Jesuit. This means that he is part of the Society of Jesus, an obedience devoted to the papacy. To integrate this order, the studies are long. The future Pope Francis thus studied several subjects for fifteen years, including theology, philosophy and psychology. Ordained a priest in 1969, it was only at the age of 37 that he completed his initiatory journey, by pronouncing his last vow, that of allegiance to the pope. In accordance with the Jesuit tradition, Jorge Mario Bergoglio is therefore an intellectual. A scholar, who, in addition to French, English, Spanish and Portuguese, speaks fluent Italian, which is the language of his parents, but also German and of course Latin. In his free time, he likes to read the works of Jorge Luis Borges and Dostoyevsky, but also leafs through the press. He is also a fan of opera and football.

The "pope of the poor" is not a reformist pope. On many social issues, Pope Francis shares the positions of his predecessors, whether on the question of abortion, contraception, the ordination of women or homosexual marriage. Francis therefore appears as a conservative pope. Thus, when the bill on same-sex marriage was debated in Argentina, Jorge Mario Bergoglio strongly opposed this reform, describing marriage between two people of the same sex as "anthropological backwardness". He also stood up against the right granted to transsexuals to change their marital status in Argentina. Moreover, for the pope, abortion is an ethical issue and not a religious one. He is opposed to it, even in the case of rape, and considers that it is a deprivation of the "first of human rights", that of life, and that "to abort is to kill someone helpless" and it is "never a solution". Finally, he is also opposed to the marriage of priests, as well as that of married men who wish to become priests. Even though the matter has been debated for lack of priests in office, the pope is adamant it will not happen under his office. On these themes, the pontificate of Pope Francis does not adopt a revolutionary position. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, however, took a stand in 2012 against Argentine priests who refused to baptize children born out of wedlock, calling these priests "hypocrites".

With the current power in Argentina, Pope Francis has maintained strained relations. Among its detractors is also part of British public opinion. Thus, in 2011, the future pope, taking a clear position in the conflict between the United Kingdom and Argentina over the Falklands, affirmed that "the Falklands belong to Argentina". On March 30 and 31, 2019, for his 28th apostolic journey, the pope is visiting Morocco. Under the sign of hope, he responds to the invitation of King Mohammed VI, to discuss Islam and the issue of migration. After the interview, the holy man goes to the Imam Training Institute, which is a first for a pope in a 99% Muslim country, and its 30,000 to 35,000 Catholics. The last pope to visit Morocco was John Paul II in 1985.

Pope Francis also visited Madagascar in early September 2019. There, he denounces excessive deforestation, corruption, exclusion and poverty, asking the authorities to create jobs that respect the environment. Madagascar is indeed one of the poorest countries in the world, where 9 out of 10 people live on less than two dollars a day. He also visited Japan at the end of November 2019, a country he had wanted to see since his youth. For the Land of the Rising Sun, his message advocates nuclear disarmament: "Soon I will visit Nagasaki and Hiroshima where I will pray for the victims of the horrific bombardment of these two cities and I will echo your own prophetic calls for the nuclear disarmament". He also prays for the victims of the March 2011 tsunami, and has a thought for the "hidden Christians" who transmitted the Catholic religion to each other, without a priest, for two centuries: "These 'hidden Christians' kept the faith for generations through baptism, prayer and catechesis! They are authentic domestic Churches that shone in this country, perhaps unknowingly, like a mirror of the family of Nazareth."

On December 1, 2019, Pope Francis publishes an apostolic letter "Admirabile signum" on the value of the nativity scene and its meaning. "The marvelous sign of the crib, so dear to the Christian people, always arouses astonishment and wonder", such is the beginning of the pope's letter. He describes the family tradition that one learns from childhood as "a living Gospel", and hopes that this tradition "fallen into disuse, [...] can be rediscovered and revitalized". He also supports the fact of extending the installation of this custom to workplaces, schools, prisons, hospitals... The pope also welcomes the initiative of Saint Francis, who set up the first living nativity scene for Christmas in Greccio, in 1223.

Pope Francis is present on the social network Twitter, via the account @Pontifex. Its goals are to evangelize through tweets and to get closer to the youth. Each tweet is published in nine languages. As of February 2020, he has 1.5 million followers for his French twitter account.

On March 19, 2016, he also registered on Instagram under the name of Franciscus and then declared: "I begin a new path, to walk with you the ways of the mercy and the tenderness of God". As of February 2020, his account has 6.5 million followers.