Fears for health of Pope Francis as he is unable to stand at Vatican speech
21 DEC 2015
BY HANNAH ROBERTS
“I am not feeling very strong. With your permission, I’ll speak to you sitting down”
Fears for the health of Pope Francis have resurfaced after he was unable to stand at an official event, explaining that he was ‘not feeling strong.’
Addressing Vatican officials in a Christmas speech on Monday, Francis said he had the flu. He said: ‘Dear brothers and sisters, Forgive me for not standing up as I speak to you, but for some days I’ve been suffering from flu and I am not feeling very strong. With your permission, I’ll speak to you sitting down.’
The pope has been unsteady of his feet at times in recent months, stumbling several times in public. Last week he celebrated his 79th birthday.
In November as walked up the steps in the Basilica of St John Lateran in Rome he seemingly tripped on his robes, forcing nearby priests to grasp his arms and help him up the steps.
The same week he tripped as he walked up some steps in St Peter’s Square, this time being brought to his hands and knees.
Concerns for the health of Pope Francis first surfaced after the pontiff told parishioners in May that he is ‘a bit old and a bit sick’.
During a visit to the seaside town of Ostia, the pope asked a group of ill and disabled people to pray for him, warning that he was also suffering from heath problems.
Previously Francis has insisted that he expects to live only two or three years. He told journalists on the papal plane last year he would only be in power ‘a short time’. ‘Two or three years and then I’ll be off to the Father’s house, ‘ he predicted.
The pope has some underlying health problems, including sciatica and had part of one of his lungs removed in his youth.
Some observers have claimed that he has gained weight since his election and is having difficulty breathing, which they say could be a sign of a heart condition. Earlier this year doctors reportedly advised him to cut back on his daily meal of pasta.
Claims in October that the pope was being treated for a small benign brain tumour were strongly denied by the Vatican and health professionals.
Father Thomas Rosica, spokesman for the Vatican, insisted today (Monday) there was no cause for alarm. He said: ‘There is a flu bug going around in Rome and elsewhere. But there is nothing to worry about.’