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Pope Francis attends a Mass for the feast of the Epiphany at St. Peter's Basilica on January 06, 2023 in Vatican City, Vatican. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

UPDATE, MARCH 30, 2023: Pope Francis ‘improving’ from ‘respiratory infection,’ Vatican says

VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis has been admitted today to Rome’s Gemelli hospital for “previously scheduled tests,” as news outlets now report that his scheduled has been cleared for the upcoming days after he experienced heart problems prior to arriving at the hospital.

In a brief statement issued to the press March 29, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni stated that “The Holy Father has been at Gemelli since this afternoon for some previously scheduled checkups.”

The Pontiff had conducted his regular general audience in the morning, being visibly less physically able than he had appeared in recent days.

Following this, however, Italian news outlets began reporting that the Pope’s scheduled meetings for the next few days had been cancelled, citing a Vatican source. 

After the audience, he reportedly had to cancel a scheduled interview and be transported to the nearby Gemelli hospital in an ambulance. According to the news reports, which cited sources in the hospital, Francis was suffering from “heart problems” along with breathing issues when he arrived. 

His condition is currently deemed as “not worrisome” according to Corriere della Sera.  

Pope Francis is understood to be remaining in the hospital overnight, with close staff also spending the night in the hospital. 

In a statement issued at 8:30 p.m. Rome time, Bruni stated that “in recent days Pope Francis complained of some respiratory difficulties and this afternoon he went to Policlinico A. Gemelli to undergo some medical checks. The outcome of these showed a respiratory infection (excluding Covid 19 infection) that will require a few days of appropriate hospital medical treatment.”

Francis’ public schedule was empty yesterday, with two publicly advertised meetings due to be held Thursday and another on Friday. On Sunday, he is due to begin the Holy Week liturgical ceremonies with the Palm Sunday Mass. According to America magazine, his schedule has been cleared until at least Saturday, April 1.

In 2021, the pontiff previously underwent a six-hour colon surgery at the Gemelli to have part of his colon removed due to diverticulitis. He subsequently spent ten days there in recovery. 

Around the time of the surgery, and following it, rumors grew that he was suffering from cancer and nearing the end of his pontificate. Such rumors were aided by his long-standing use of a wheelchair and increased knee problems.

Francis has firmly rejected the rumors of cancer, and his mobility has been slightly improving in recent months.

In August 2022, Francis appointed Massimiliano Strappetti as his personal nurse assistant.

Prior to his colon surgery, in January 2021 Pope Francis began his course of COVID-19 injections, being one of the first in the Vatican to receive Pfizer’s abortion-tainted vaccine.