Pope Francis Health Update as Catholic Leader Skips Easter Event

Pope Francis didn’t attend the Good Friday Way of the Cross procession in Rome, which re-enacts the final procession and crucifixion of Jesus Christ, to “conserve his health,” according to the Vatican.

The announcement was made in a Telegram post just five minutes before the procession, known as the Via Crucis, was due to begin its journey towards the Colosseum. A chair that had been prepared for the pope was then removed.

Over the past few years there has been concern about the health of Francis, aged 87, who had a section of his intestine removed during survey in 2021. As a young man Francis, an Argentine who has led the Catholic Church for 11 years, had one of his lungs largely removed due to a respiratory infection.

In a statement announcing Francis would miss Friday’s procession, the Vatican press office said: “To conserve his health in view of the vigil tomorrow and Mass on Easter Sunday, Pope Francis will follow the Via Crucis at the Colosseum this evening from the Casa Santa Marta.”

Over the past few weeks Francis has suffered from bouts of bronchitis and flu, according to CNN, and has been taken to hospital for tests.

Appearing on CBS’s ‘Face The Nation’ on Friday, Cardinal Gregory, the Archbishop of Washington, said Francis has been participating in events when he can.

Referring to the Pope, he commented: “Well I think for a man who’s 87 he has good days and bad days. If I’m given the grace to reach that age I suspect I will have good days and bad days.

“For example on Palm Sunday he didn’t give the homily which was expected and which was ordinary but then yesterday at the Chrism Mass he came in and people were amazed and earlier at the audience [on Wednesday] he walked onto the platform so he’s exhibiting the health issues that a man of his age would have.”

Francis is expected to preside over Easter Mass on Sunday and then give an address called the Urbi et Orbi, or to the city and the world, focusing on the current situation of humanity.

In his Good Friday meditations, Francis hit out at the “madness” and “trauma” of armed conflict and expressed solidarity with those “demeaned by the arrogance, injustice and power of those who exploit the poor amid general indifference.”

Pope Francis presides over the liturgy of the passion and death of Jesus Christ in St. Peter’s Basilica on Good Friday afternoon on March 29, 2024 in Vatican City, Vatican. Francis pulled out of the…

Vatican Media via Vatican Pool/GETTY

He also warned about the danger of online hate, condemning “hasty judgment, gossip, and violent and offensive words” and stating: “All it takes is a keyboard to spew insults and condemnation.”

In December, the Vatican released a document called the Fiducia Supplicans giving priests permission to bless couples in “irregular situations,” including same-sex couples, though this led to a backlash from some Catholic traditionalists.

Earlier this year, Francis sparked a row after appearing to suggest Ukraine should have the “courage of the white flag” and open negotiations with Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to invade Ukraine in February 2022, starting the largest war in Europe since the end of World War II.