Leader of the Roman Catholic church,
Pope Francis will have surgery on his abdomen and remain in a Rome hospital for several days, the Vatican said on Wednesday, June 7 in the latest health concern for the pontiff.
The 86 year old pope was forced to cancel several work commitments in late May after he was hospitalized due to a fever, and he was hospitalized in March for bronchitis but responded well to antibiotics.
The procedure which is called a laparotomy, involves general anesthesia and is intended to repair a hernia that the Vatican said is causing “recurrent, painful and worsening” symptoms.
According to reports, the intervention is likely related to the surgery Francis had in 2021 to remove half of his colon.
The Vatican spokesman, Matteo Bruni, added the pope is expected to make a “full functional recovery.”
In addition to his colon surgery two years ago, Francis had part of one lung removed after a severe bout of pneumonia as a young man. More recently, in 2019, he underwent ocular surgery at Rome’s Clinic of Pius XI to treat a cataract. He has also struggled with chronic sciatica pain recently.
Over the past year, he experienced knee troubles made him use a walking stick or a wheelchair.
Should Francis be incapacitated for any length of time, the Vatican could find itself facing something of a constitutional crisis. There is no “vice pope” in the Catholic system, meaning someone who can exercise the pope’s authority in his absence.
In an interview with Spanish daily ABC in December, Francis said he had already prepared a letter of resignation in the case of permanent medical incapacity shortly after his election in 2013.