Since ever The health of the popes has been an issue that, being crucial for the Catholic Church, transcends also the limits of that institution. In modern times and due to the scope that the dissemination of news has had due to technological developments, any announcement regarding the topic acquires international relevance. In particular and because Francisco became a personality with reach and influence on the international stage, The Pope’s health occupies, worries and is an issue in the Vatican and throughout the world.
For this reason, there are many eyes and ears attentive to the evolution of Jorge Bergoglio’s health. But also and as a logical result of the information secrecy with which the Catholic Church and the Vatican in particular tend to handle themselves – on this and other issues – rumors and rumors multiply.
The Vatican Press Office reported this week on a “mild flu” that affects the Pope’s health, minimizing the significance of the data. But the Pope, who is about to turn 87 and for many years before acceding to the pontificate suffers from lung disease, then suspended the hearings and did not appear in public again. The previous Saturday the Vatican Press Office limited itself to reporting that “the Holy Father’s audiences scheduled for this morning have been canceled due to a mild case of flu”. On Sunday, Francis decided not to pray the traditional Angelus from the window of the Apostolic Palace facing St. Peter’s Square and delegated the reading of the text to one of his collaborators. “Today I can’t talk from the window because I have this problem of inflammation in the lungs.”Bergoglio himself admitted.
A few hours later and after Francisco’s agenda for his transfer to Dubai to participate in the environment summit (Cop28) had been released, the same sources announced the trip cancellation whose initiation was scheduled for December 1. The official report then spoke of “flu-like state and inflammation of the respiratory tract”.
On Tuesday, the Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of Stateused a meeting with journalists during an event in the Italian Chamber of Deputies, to comment that “the Pope is on the path to recovery, he just did not want to expose himself to risks, this according to the indication given by the doctors.”
“I think he made this choice to avoid a worsening and to be able to recover as soon as possible,” Parolin told reporters.
Francisco’s “mild flu” was preventing him from participating in a world event that he himself has considered to be of enormous importance. The environmental issue is at the center of Bergoglio’s concernsto the point that Francis decided, last October and with Cop28 in mind, to publish an update of his encyclical “Laudato si” (2015) in which he proposes a model of integral ecology. This year, in its new text called “Praise God” Francisco maintained that “the immense technological growth has not been accompanied by a development of the human being in terms of responsibility, values and conscience.”
This is the tenor of the speech that Francis wanted to deliver in Dubai on December 2, in person and before the representatives of the world powers and using all the weight of his authority gained on the issue and exercising the symbolic power accumulated in his years of pontificate.
The Italian journalist Marco Politi, a leading analyst of Vatican political affairs, wrote in Daily fact on November 29 that “the ‘Francisco flu’ is not good at all. The pontiff will not go to Dubai. The doctors forbade it. Francisco was very interested in being present and speaking at the Cop28 climate conference. A crucial conference, convened to address the global issue of greenhouse gases, verifying the possibility of containing global warming to 1.5 degrees.”
In the ten years that he has led the Catholic Church around the world, Jorge Bergoglio has not canceled any trip abroad that had already been announced. It happened that in 2021 mobility problems prevented him from traveling to Florence, within Italy. And that same year he postponed, also for health reasons, a trip to Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but that visit finally took place in 2023.