Action Alert!

Please: the truth about the Pope’s health

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Apr 03, 2023

Wouldn’t it be nice if the Vatican simply told us the truth about the Pope’s health?

Last Wednesday, when the Pope was hospitalized, the Vatican press office reassured us that he was going in for “previously scheduled” tests. The next day we were told he was suffering from a respiratory infection, and by the weekend, as the Pope was released, the word was that he had been treated for “severe bronchitis.”

In an excellent analysis of “The Pope’s Mysterious Hospitalisation”, Vatican journalist Edward Pentin lists the questions raised by these explanations:

  • If the Pope’s original hospitalization had been “previously scheduled,” why did he have other appointments on his calendar for Wednesday afternoon—when Tuesday’s calendar had openings?
  • Why was an ambulance required to take him to the hospital for tests?
  • If he had “severe bronchitis,” why was he not coughing frequently during his Wednesday audience? And how did he recover so quickly? (An 86-year-old man with severe bronchitis would be expected to keep coughing for at least a few days even after treatment with antibiotics.)
  • Why did the Pope seem comfortable during his Wednesday public audience, but then in obvious distress shortly afterward, as he was placed in the ambulance?
  • Why has the Pope gained a significant amount of weight in recent weeks, and why has his in-house medical staff reportedly been expanded? (The expansion of his staff is only rumored, but the weight gain is unmistakable.)

As he left the hospital, the Pope joked with reporters that he didn’t understand his medical condition, and they would have to ask the doctors for an explanation. He was joking, of course, but bronchitis is not difficult to understand.

Step back a bit, and look at the available evidence: An 86-year-old man, who has been (definitely) gaining weight and (maybe) under closer medical supervision, rather suddenly complains of chest pains and difficulty breathing. He is rushed to the hospital, where after a matter of hours his condition is stabilized and he resumes his normal duties. Those facts do not suggest bronchitis. Speculation about what they do suggest is inevitable, when the information coming from the Vatican PR machinery is implausible.

The Pope has a right to privacy, like everyone else, and we do not need to know every detail about his medical condition. The Vatican could simply decline to answer specific questions, and leave us to wonder and worry and pray for the Pope’s health. Better no information at all, than information that we cannot trust.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Apr. 23, 2023 5:31 PM ET USA

    ...Or at least make the lies more plausible.

  • Posted by: feedback - Apr. 04, 2023 8:38 AM ET USA

    "If you tell the truth you don't have anything to remember"

  • Posted by: DrJazz - Apr. 04, 2023 7:47 AM ET USA

    Maybe he had "previously scheduled severe bronchitis," then got some of those New World Order illuminati drugs to instantly reverse it. Certainly, as you suggest, the Vatican isn't being truthful. The truth seems to be in very short supply today.