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Pope ‘progressively improving’ after surgery, doing some work from armchair

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By Philip Pullella

ROME (Reuters) – Pope Francis’ overall condition is progressively improving and his post-surgical recovery is normal, allowing him to get out of bed and resume handling some Church work from his hospital armchair on Friday, the Vatican said.

Francis, 86, underwent a three-hour operation on Wednesday to repair an abdominal hernia, which doctors said was successful enough that he should have no limitations on his travels and other activities after he recovers.

“Pope Francis rested during the night. His medical team says the clinical situation is progressively improving and the post-operative recovery is normal,” spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement.

“After having breakfast, His Holiness began to move around, spending most of the morning in an armchair. This allowed him to read the newspapers and to start resuming work,” he said.

Given the increasingly positive nature of the medical bulletins so far, they suggested the pope will be strong enough to appear at the balcony of his 10th-floor suite at Rome’s Gemelli hospital to recite his traditional noon prayer this Sunday.

He did so during his stay in the same hospital for abdominal surgery in 2021 in which he had part of his colon removed in an operation aimed at addressing a painful bowel condition called diverticulitis.

The pope said earlier this year that the condition had returned and was one cause of his increasing weight.

The current hospital stay is the third for Francis since cardinals chose the Argentinian in 2013 as the first Latin American pope, and it is the latest in a string of health problems for him.

He was hospitalised for a few days in March for treatment of bronchitis.

Doctor Sergio Alfieri, the chief surgeon who operated on the pope, said on Wednesday Francis had reacted well to general anaesthesia and that he expected the pontiff to be in hospital for about five to seven days.

But Alfieri cautioned that while the pope was strong he was also elderly and recently had bronchitis, so “we will take all necessary precautions” regarding the length of the hospital stay.

Francis has two trips planned for this summer, to Portugal Aug. 2-6 for World Youth Day and to visit the Shrine of Fatima, and to Mongolia Aug. 31-Sept. 4, one of the more remote places he will have visited on his travels.

(Additional reporting by Alvise Armellini, editing by Hugh Lawson and Mark Heinrich)

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