The pope, 86, is skipping the ceremony under doctors’ advice, following his three-hour intestinal surgery on Wednesday
Pope Francis will not be leading Sunday’s blessing as he continues to heal from intestinal surgery.
The pope, 86, is skipping the ceremony under doctors’ advice, following his three-hour surgery on Wednesday — in which he was admitted due to “recurring” symptoms caused by an abdominal hernia — reporters were told on Saturday.
Surgeon Sergio Alfieri, who operated on the pope, said he is doing “absolutely well” after the procedure and said doctors are being cautious to ensure “the least strain on the abdominal wall in order to allow the implanted mesh and the muscle fascia repaired to heal optimally.”
The pope was placed under general anesthesia during his surgery, as doctors repaired a hernia with the insertion of a prosthetic support netting. Painful scarring from previous abdominal surgeries was also removed.
"Only three days have passed. We asked the Holy Father to be prudent and avoid the strain [of standing up],” Dr. Alfieri told reporters.
“In the next few days, if he's not careful about healing, the netting could tear and he'll be back in the operating room. If he has a careful recovery, he'll be back better," the physician added.
Dr. Alfieri also noted that “all paraments are regular" with the pope, and he is currently on a semiliquid diet with no fever. He said the religious figure would most likely remain in the hospital for “at least the whole of next week.”
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni told reporters that the Pope will recite the Sunday noon prayer from his hospital bed privately, and will unite “the faithful who want to accompany him, wherever they are.”
Bruni added in a separate statement that those attending Sunday’s blessing will hear a speech from the pope read out by a Vatican cardinal instead.
The Vatican announced Pope Francis’ intestinal surgery earlier this week.
"At the end of the General Audience, the Holy Father went to the A. Gemelli University Hospital where in the early afternoon he will undergo a surgical operation of laparotomy and plastic surgery of the abdominal wall with prostheses under general anesthesia,” the Vatican said in a statement to PEOPLE.
“The stay at the health facility will last several days to allow for the normal postoperative course and full functional recovery," the Vatican continued.
The Pope was previously hospitalized in late March after seeking treatment for bronchitis, the Vatican said at the time. The pontiff was hospitalized at Gemelli Polyclinic where he received antibiotics administered intravenously, per the Associated Press.
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