Vatican Says Pope Is in ‘Good General Condition’ After Colon Surgery

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ROME — The Vatican said on Monday that Pope Francis was in “good general condition” a day after the 84-year-old pontiff underwent colon surgery, adding that he was expected to remain in the hospital for seven days, “if no complications arise.”

The pope was “alert and breathing on his own,” a Vatican spokesman, Matteo Bruni, said in a statement, noting that the operation had lasted three hours.

The Vatican said on Sunday that the procedure had been scheduled — Francis suffers from diverticulitis, a condition that can infect or inflame the colon — but it had made no prior announcement of the visit, and the pope’s unexpected admission to a Rome hospital had come as a surprise.

The operation is the first relatively serious health crisis for the pope, whose eight-year pontificate has been built around his personal style, charisma and expressed desire to reinvigorate the church.

Unlike his predecessors, Francis has never left the Vatican for the cooler papal residence in Castel Gandolfo, near Rome, during the summer. But he normally slows down his schedule in July, suspending his weekly general audiences with the faithful held on Wednesdays, and he does not normally schedule encounters with dignitaries or groups. Some Vatican experts said on Monday that he had probably scheduled the surgery at the beginning of this month because his agenda was clear.

It is the first time that Francis has been admitted to a hospital since becoming pope in 2013. For the most part, his health has not caused concern. In 1957, he had an upper lobe of his lung removed as a result of complications from tuberculosis. And in recent years, his breathing has seemed labored during speeches. He had a cataract removed in 2019.

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