Pope Francis at his Wednesday general audience in St. Peter’s Square June 7, 2023. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA
Rome Newsroom, Jun 7, 2023 / 10:50 am (CNA).
The Vatican said Wednesday evening that Pope Francis is out of surgery and that the abdominal operation he underwent “took place without complications.”
The 86-year-old pope will remain in Rome’s Gemelli Hospital for several days to recover after the surgery, according to the Vatican’s spokesman.
In a surgery lasting three hours, Pope Francis underwent a laparotomy and abdominal wall reconstruction using prosthetic materials in the early afternoon of June 7.
The operation under general anesthesia was planned by the pope’s medical team in recent days after it became necessary due to a hernia that was causing recurrent, painful, and worsening symptoms, according to Matteo Bruni, the director of the Holy See Press Office.
The surgery attempted to repair an incisional hernia, a type of abdominal wall hernia at the site of a previous surgical incision. In the pope’s case, this could be the result of the scarring caused by the pope’s colon surgery in July 2021.
The Italian newspaper Il Messaggero reported that the surgeon in charge of the pope’s operation was Sergio Alfieri, the same surgeon who operated on Pope Francis in July 2021 when the pope had part of his colon removed due to diverticulitis.
Pope Francis left for the hospital immediately after greeting pilgrims at his Wednesday general audience, where the pope prayed before a relic of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.
The pope was taken to Gemelli Hospital in a white Fiat 500 with tinted windows with a police escort.
Once news of the pope’s surgery broke, people began to gather in front of the hospital where he was being treated.
“We follow him with our affection. We follow him with our prayers, hoping that everything will be resolved as soon as possible and he will return to the exercise of his ministry,” Cardinal Pietro Parolin told journalists when asked about the pope’s health.
The cardinal added that he expects that Pope Francis will continue to work from his hospital bed as he recovers.
“Even if from a hospital bed, he will resume the exercise of his ministry. So if there are things that need to be decided, urgently, they will be brought to him at the Gemelli hospital,” Parolin said, according to Sky News.
Pope Francis has been hospitalized three times in the past two years. The pope was hospitalized for four days in March for a lung infection and has also dealt this year with a recurrence of diverticulitis, a painful inflammation of bulges in the large intestine following his operation in July 2021.
Since early 2022 the pope has suffered from knee pain. He started to have difficulty standing and walking and has been using a cane and wheelchair for more than a year.
Pope Francis told the Italian bishops in May last year that he did not want to have his knee operated on because he did not want to recover from general anesthesia again following his last surgery.
An Italian diocese noted in a press release on June 7 that it had been notified by the Prefecture of the Papal Household that all of Pope Francis’ audiences, including general audiences, have been canceled until June 18 due to the pope’s surgery.