He feared this scenario, that of a new general anesthesia. His doctors, after examining him, left him no choice. Here is the fate of Pope Francis again in the hands of the white coats, with, again and again, this digestive system that does not want to heal. Admitted urgently Wednesday afternoon at the Gemelli Hospital in Rome (Italy), for surgery to avoid the risk of intestinal obstruction due to the formation of an abdominal hernia, the pope will now remain under high surveillance of doctors.
"The operation went well," the Vatican said Wednesday evening, while this new big health glitch revived speculation about the possible renunciation of the pope to his office. For a frail and elderly man (86 years old) like Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the three-hour operation he has just undergone is not without risk. If the intervention itself took place "without complications" according to the Vatican, the hardest part begins for Francis, with the possibility of postoperative complications.
He had to use a wheelchair
In July 2021, the pontiff had already been hospitalized for ten days for a heavy colon operation. Later, he explained that he had "after-effects" of anesthesia, which explains why he had never been able to have surgery on his sick knee and that he had to use a wheelchair. Will this second general anesthesia force him to slow down the pace of travel that he had resumed with a good appetite since the summer? Or even to abandon his office, as he had promised himself if ever his health did not allow him to continue?
For now, in the Vatican, we are holding our breath. This intervention will lead to "several days" of hospitalization, said in a statement the director of the press service of the Holy See, Matteo Bruni. Until June 18, it will be mandatory rest for Francis the Argentine, whose all audiences are canceled until that date. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, number 2 of the Vatican, hastened to indicate that this operation did not imply "any vacancy", "nor a temporary replacement of the pope in the exercise of his functions".
The question of his resignation is no longer taboo
The tone was therefore intended to be reassuring. If Francis intends to continue to hold the helm of the Church, even from his bed, this new hospitalization, twelve days after an attack of fever that had already led him, briefly, to Gemini on May 26, has had the effect of a small bombshell in ecclesiastical circles. The Argentine pope's health is now deteriorating visibly. So much so that within the Church of France, the question of his possible resignation, or even his death, is no longer taboo. "Have you, the journalists, prepared the necro?" one inquired openly in the upper echelons, while worrying about the risk of upheaval of the papal agenda. "If it happens, Francis will not be able to come to Marseille on September 23... »
But it is not only the pope's Marseille hook that risks being compromised, his participation in World Youth Day (WYD) in early August in Lisbon (Portugal) could also be. According to the Bishops' Conference, 40,000 young French people have planned to go there. This will be 10,000 more than at the previous WYD organized in Europe, in Krakow (Poland) in 2016. "No pope missed WYD," recalls historian Bernard Lecomte, "if it is not Francis who will go, it will be his successor."