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Pope Francis leaves the Gemelli Hospital, June 16, 2023. Vatican News Media/screenshot

VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis has returned to the Vatican this morning, after being discharged from hospital where he had been taken June 7 for abdominal surgery.

Early Friday morning, the 86-year-old Pontiff left Rome’s Gemelli Hospital, where he had been since the late morning of June 7. Asked by the crowd of press waiting outside the hospital, the Pope replied “I am still alive.” 

He was then driven back to the Casa Santa Martha – the Vatican hotel which he has made his home for the entirety of his pontificate – making some stops along the way, including to the chapel of Salus Populi Romani in St. Mary Major’s. 

He will now resume some of his customary routine in the Vatican, with his Sunday Angelus address and other meetings due to take place. However, the weekly general audience held every Wednesday morning will not occur June 21 as it “has been cancelled to safeguard the Holy Father’s post-operative recovery.”

Dr. Sergio Alfieri who performed the surgery last week, told reporters that the Pope was “better than before” and was a “strong pope.” The medical procedure was related to Francis’ 2021 colon surgery, during which he had part of the organ removed in a six-hour surgery due to diverticulitis.

READ: Pope Francis ‘is awake, alert,’ doctors say after surgery goes ‘without complications’

The Pope was admitted for an “incarcerated incisional hernia,” which the Holy See Press Office last week described as necessary but not an emergency. Press Office Director Matteo Bruni stated June 7 that the operation had been arranged “in recent days by the medical team assisting the Holy Father,” and “became necessary because of an incarcerated incisional hernia that is causing recurrent, painful and worsening sub occlusive syndromes.”

Speaking after the operation, Alfieri stated that the procedure had gone successfully. It was “for an incarcerated laparocele at the scar of previous laparotomy surgeries performed in past years.” This had been causing the Pope “a worsening painful intestinal subocclusive syndrome for several months,” said Alfieri.

The surgeon also rejected suggestions of an emergency operation – rumors of which had been circulating due to the Pope’s unannounced visit to hospital the day previously. 

While his Tuesday, June 6 visit caused media speculation, LifeSiteNews understands that the Pope’s health situation is more peculiar than is officially acknowledged, and he regularly makes quiet visits to hospital. 

Indeed, this recent hospitalization is the second of this year, after he was hospitalized suddenly in late March. The Press Office stated the visit was for “previously scheduled checkups,” but this was swiftly debunked by the Italian media reports that Francis had to cancel a scheduled interview and his appointments after the Wednesday audience and be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance.

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According to the news reports, which cited sources in the hospital, Francis was suffering from “heart problems” along with breathing issues when he arrived.

The Pope subsequently told a friend that he even “arrived unconscious” at the hospital in March, although he later contradicted this when speaking on the issue some weeks later.