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Pope thanks post-illness supporters as Easter week kicks off

The world’s 1.3 billion Catholic chiefs are suffering from increasing health problems over the past few years

Pope Francis thanked those who prayed for him during his illness on Sunday, which kicked off the holiest week in the Christian calendar, the day after he was discharged from a bout of bronchitis.

“Thank you for your participation and also for your prayers, which have intensified over the last few days. Thank you!” he told the crowd gathered for Palm Sunday in St. Peter’s Square.

An 86-year-old man who was admitted to a hospital in Rome on Wednesday with difficulty breathing has raised concerns that he may not have enough to attend a series of important Easter ceremonies.

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But Francis had promised to attend, and waved briefly to some 60,000 people as he rode his Popemobile through a plaza decorated with more than 35,000 plants and flowers.

He looked serious as he followed a procession of religious figures, including a red-robed cardinal with large palm leaves and olive branches.

He blessed his palms, walked the short path to the altar with the help of a cane, and sat there while the ceremony was performed by the cardinals.

The Vatican said this was an arrangement adopted before the pope’s recent illness because Argentines can no longer stand for long periods of time.

Frances, who looked pale at times and spoke softly, stood at noon and said Angelus. The crowd applauded as he thanked them for their prayers.

He then waved and laughed as he made the final round on the Popmobile.

“He’s a Pope who does his best for others… I wish you a long life!” Giovanni, a pilgrim who did not give his last name, said before Mass.

Palm Sunday marks the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. Easter Sunday, this year his April 9th, celebrates his resurrection from the dead.

~Increasing health problems~

As Francis left the hospital in Gemelli in Rome after three nights on Saturday, smiling, he said, “I’m still alive!”

The world’s 1.3 billion Catholic Emirs have suffered increasing health problems in recent years, including knee problems that have forced them to use wheelchairs and canes.

Francis felt ill after a public hearing in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday, but his condition improved after being given antibiotics.

It was his second hospitalization since 2021, when he underwent colon surgery, also in Gemelli.

His growing health problems over the past year have raised widespread concerns, including speculation that he may choose to retire rather than stay in the job for the rest of his life.

Last month Francis celebrated his 10th anniversary as head of the worldwide Catholic Church.

Although he has pushed for major government reforms and sought to build a more open and compassionate church, he faced internal opposition, especially from conservatives.

He has repeatedly said he would consider resigning if his health fails, but earlier this year he said he had no plans to resign at this time.

Francis’ last stay at Gemelli in July 2021 lasted 10 days. He was hospitalized after suffering from a form of diverticulitis, a pocket inflammation that occurs in the lining of the intestine that required surgery.

Pope said in an interview in January that his diverticulitis had returned.


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https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/pope-presides-over-palm-sunday-after-hospital-stay/news-story/a5f9490215ffee326c51e839aceef8d6 Pope thanks post-illness supporters as Easter week kicks off

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