Pope Francis dealing with bronchitis, receiving antibiotic treatments

November 30, 2023

Pope Francis has been dealing with an illness this week that has hampered his daily activities and forced the cancellation of a planned trip abroad to attend a climate change summit in the Middle East, according to the New York Post.

The pope was able to preside over his weekly audiences on Wednesday but, due to difficulty speaking and "since I am not well," he felt compelled to have an aide read his prepared remarks aloud on his behalf.

In a soft and barely audible voice, Francis said at one point, "Excuse me, but with this cold, I cannot speak much, but I am better than yesterday."

Pope's schedule altered due to illness

On Saturday, Nov. 25, the Holy See announced that Pope Francis' audiences for that day had been canceled "due to a mild flu-like condition."

In an update on Monday, Nov. 27, spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement, "I confirm that the CT scan ruled out pneumonia, but showed pulmonary inflammation causing some breathing difficulties. For more effective treatment, a needle cannula was inserted for the infusion of intravenous antibiotics."

"The Pope's condition is good and stable; he has no fever and his respiratory situation is clearly improving," he continued.

Bruni added, "In order to facilitate the Pope's recovery, some important engagements scheduled for these days have been postponed so that he can devote the time and energy he desires. Others, of an institutional nature or easier to support given his current state of health, have been maintained."

Pope jokes "I am alive" but is diagnosed with "acute, infectious bronchitis"

According to the Post, the Vatican proceeded to announce on Tuesday that Pope Francis would no longer be in attendance at the upcoming COP28 climate change conference hosted by the United Nations in Dubai of the United Arab Emirates that is set to run from Friday through Sunday.

The pope, who has made environmentalism a top priority of his agenda and expressed his "great regret" at being unable to attend the international gathering, was scheduled to address that conference in person and may still attempt to deliver his remarks by video if he feels capable to do so.

On Thursday, the Vatican News reported that Francis presided over an audience with attendees of an "Ethics in Health Management" seminar at the Vatican and used the opportunity to address his own health issues.

"As you can see, I am alive," he said as a joke. "The doctor didn't let me go to Dubai. The reason is that it's very hot there, and going from the heat to air conditioning is not convenient in this bronchial situation."

The pope revealed that he had been diagnosed with "a very acute, infectious bronchitis" and noted, "I no longer have a fever, but antibiotics and such things are still ongoing."

Pope addresses the importance of preventative care in "preserving" good health

Speaking on the topic of health more broadly during the seminar, Pope Francis observed how crucial medical care is when one feels ill but also preventative care when one feels well, as such care "prevents events before they occur."

"Health is both strong and fragile. 'What health this person has, how resilient, how strong,' but it is also fragile. Poorly cared-for health succumbs to fragility," he explained, and later addressed the importance of "not only seeking medical and pharmacological solutions but also caring for health, thinking about the good of health, and how to preserve that good. Not just curing but preserving."

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