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VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — The Holy See has announced that Pope Francis is “progressively improving” after being taken into Rome’s Gemelli hospital yesterday, where he was officially diagnosed with a “respiratory infection.”

In a statement issued late morning, the Vatican’s spokesman Matteo Bruni announced that Pope Francis had “rested well” during the night.

“The clinical picture is progressively improving and he is continuing his planned treatment,” said Bruni.

The statement added that the Pope had eaten, “read some newspapers and resumed work.” Francis then prayed in the hospital apartment’s private chapel and received Holy Communion, according to the statement.

The 86-year-old Pontiff was taken to hospital on March 29. The Vatican issued a brief announcement on the day, stating that Francis had been at the hospital for “some previously scheduled checkups.” 

However, Italian news outlets reported that shortly after concluding his weekly audience, Francis had been 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.

Francis had reportedly been due to give an interview after the audience, but – according to local reports – had to cancel this due to his worsening health condition. 

After hours of silence from the Vatican, a second statement was released at 20:30 local time, revealing that the Pope had for some days “complained of some breathing difficulties and this afternoon he went to Policlinico A. Gemelli for some medical checks.”

Medics at the Gemelli discovered a “respiratory infection (excluding Covid 19 infection) that will require a few days of appropriate hospital medical therapy,” the Vatican added. The evening statement did not address if Francis was removed to hospital urgently.

His public schedule was subsequently cleared from the Vatican’s calendar, although reports indicate the Pope could be discharged before Palm Sunday. However, it is understood that alternative arrangements are being made for the Holy Week ceremonies to be conducted without him.

While still a teenager, Francis had a lung removed due to an infection. Then 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 10 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 subsequently denied the suggestion that he had cancer.