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Pope Francis has been hospitalized after having breathing trouble, the Vatican says

Pope Francis blesses a guest on March 29, 2023 during the weekly general audience at St. Peter's square in The Vatican.
Vincenzo Pinto
/
AFP via Getty Images
Pope Francis blesses a guest on March 29, 2023 during the weekly general audience at St. Peter's square in The Vatican.

Updated March 29, 2023 at 4:11 PM ET

ROME — The Vatican says Pope Francis has been taken to a Rome hospital after complaining of breathing difficulties.

Earlier the Vatican claimed the visit was for a previously scheduled check-up.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni's second statement said that hospital tests showed Francis is suffering from a respiratory infection, but they ruled out COVID.

Bruni said the pope will remain in the hospital for a few days.

The pope has diverticulitis, a condition that can infect or inflame the colon. He underwent surgery in 2021 to remove part of his colon.

Earlier this year he had said the condition had returned, but that he was not overly concerned.

Francis is due to celebrate Palm Sunday Mass this weekend, the start of numerous ceremonies, including Good Friday and culminating with Easter Sunday on April 9.

Francis visited the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan in February. It was first papal visit since to the DRC since 1985, and the first by a pope since South Sudan gained independence in 2011.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Sylvia Poggioli is senior European correspondent for NPR's International Desk covering political, economic, and cultural news in Italy, the Vatican, Western Europe, and the Balkans. Poggioli's on-air reporting and analysis have encompassed the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, the turbulent civil war in the former Yugoslavia, and how immigration has transformed European societies.