Pope Francis apologizes for not leaving his chair at Wednesday audience

Courtney Mares   By Courtney Mares for CNA

 

Pope Francis’ general audience in St. Peter’s Square, May 4, 2022. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City, May 4, 2022 / 05:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis remained seated during the traditional blessings of newlyweds and pilgrims at his Wednesday audience as he undergoes treatment for a torn ligament in his right knee.

Before the final blessing on May 4, the pope said: “Unfortunately, I won’t be able to stop among you due to my knee injury. And for that, I apologize for having to greet you from a seated position, but it is a thing of the moment. Hopefully, it will pass soon and I will be able to come to you later in other audiences.”

Pope Francis receives assistance walking at the general audience in St. Peter’s Square, May 4, 2022. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.
Pope Francis receives assistance walking at the general audience in St. Peter’s Square, May 4, 2022. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

The 85-year-old pope, who is reportedly receiving therapeutic injections for his knee injury this week, required assistance as he slowly hobbled up a ramp to reach the chair where he sat for the general audience.

Pope Francis arrived in St. Peter’s Square seated in the popemobile and waved to the small crowd, which only filled about a quarter of the large piazza.

The Mercedes SUV popemobile did multiple laps around the square, so that the pope could also greet the people at the very back of the crowd. At one point, the popemobile stopped and the Vatican security team lifted up babies and young children for the pope to kiss and bless.

Pope Francis spoke at the live-streamed general audience about the important witness that the elderly can offer to younger generations by remaining faithful until the end, like the biblical figure of Eleazar, whose story is described in the Second Book of Maccabees.

“Faith deserves respect and honor to the very end: it has changed our lives, it has purified our minds, it has taught us the worship of God and the love of our neighbor. It is a blessing for all,” he said.

While greeting some bishops and cardinals at the end of the audience, the seated pope gestured to his knee. One cardinal could be seen placing his hand on the pope’s knee as if offering a prayer for his recovery.

Pope Francis said on April 30 that his doctor had ordered him not to walk. During the last several weeks, he has canceled meetings and opted to spend more time seated during public audiences or Masses.

In an interview published on May 3, the pope said that he planned to undergo a medical procedure on his knee with injections.

“I have been like this for some time, I cannot walk,” Francis said, according to the Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera.

“It also brings a little pain, humiliation,” he said.


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