Pope Francis greets the crowd as he leads the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican June 28. (CNS photo | Vatican Media)


By Cindy Wooden | Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis was hospitalized July 4 for previously scheduled colon surgery, the Vatican press office said.

The 84-year-old pope was admitted to Rome’s Gemelli hospital in mid-afternoon after leading the recitation of the Angelus with visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

The pope will have “a planned surgical intervention for a symptomatic diverticular stenosis of the colon,” the Vatican press office said. “The surgery will be performed by Dr. Sergio Alfieri,” a staff surgeon at the Gemelli who specializes in surgery of the digestive tract and colon.

The press office said it would release another statement July 4 after the surgery.

Pope Francis was expected to remain in the hospital at least overnight.

Stenosis is an abnormal narrowing of a passage in the human body. The Vatican’s description of the pope’s condition indicated a partial blockage of the lower intestine. It provided no information about the cause or suspected cause of the blockage nor of the symptoms the pope had been experiencing.

Pope Francis has been generally healthy since becoming pope in March 2013 except for recurrent bouts of sciatica, which causes sharp pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from the lower back through the hips and down each leg. In late December and early January, he missed several events because the pain was so intense.

The pope also suffered from a pulmonary condition in 1957 at the age of 21 that required him to undergo surgery to remove the upper right lobe of one of his lungs.

In an interview for a book published early in March, the pope said that while his recovery was painful, it was “complete, and I never felt any limitation in my activities.”

“As you have seen, for example, in the various trips I have made and that you have covered, I never had to restrict or cancel any of the scheduled activities. I never experienced fatigue or shortness of breath,” he told Nelson Castro, a physician and Argentina journalist.

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