Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic World News

Pope’s surgery successful, full recovery expected

June 07, 2023

Pope Francis was “alert and conscious” after successful surgery on June 7, the Vatican reported.

The three-hour operation to correct an intestinal hernia was completed “without complications,” the Vatican announced. “The Holy Father responded well to the surgery.”

Papal spokesman Matteo Bruni explained to reporters that the surgical procedure “became necessary due to the incisional laparocele (hernia) that is causing recurrent, painful, and worsening sub-occlusive syndromes.” In non-technical language, the hernia was caused by scarring at the site of the previous intestinal surgery that the Pope had undergone two years ago, to replace a portion of his colon. The scar tissue was removed, and the intestinal wall repaired with a mesh patch.

Bruni said that the Pope would remain in the hospital for several days, “to allow for a normal post-operative course and full functional recovery.” He is expected to resume work from his room at the Gemelli Hospital during his recovery. However, the Vatican has cancelled papal audiences until at least June 18.

After his surgery in July 2021, Pope Francis disclosed that he had experienced a rocky recovery from the anesthesia. His aversion to general anesthesia was cited as a reason why he wanted to avoid surgery last year when he was sidelined by a painful knee condition.

The symptoms caused by the intestinal hernia, however, evidently left no alternative to a surgical procedure. The “sub-occlusive syndrome,” a constriction of the intestine, can be extremely painful and, if it is not addressed, sometimes dangerous. It can also become infected, leading to fevers—a fact that might explain the fever that forced the Pontiff to cancel audiences for a day two weeks ago. The Pope’s visit to the Gemelli Hospital on June 6—which caught Vatican reporters by surprise, and which Vatican officials said involved “clinical examinations”—apparently confirmed the plans for surgery.

The Pope’s medical prognosis is favorable, and his recovery is not expected to interfere with his plans for a visit to Portugal in early August for World Youth Day (including a visit to the Marian shrine at Fatima), or his trip to Mongolia at the end of the same month.


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