Pope Francis says he is feeling 'much better', voice still weak

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VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis, who has been suffering from a lung inflammation, said on Wednesday he was feeling a lot better, although he still has to restrict how much he talks.

"I am much better but I have difficulty when I talk too much," the pontiff said at the start of his weekly audience, asking an aide to read the main text on his behalf.

The pope last week cancelled a planned trip to the COP28 climate summit in Dubai on doctor's orders after a bout of flu and the associated lung problem.

Francis, who turns 87 this month, arrived at the Vatican's Paul VI hall for his weekly Wednesday audience walking with the help of a cane.

Speaking briefly in a low voice at the end of the audience, he called for prayers for the people of Ukraine, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories who are suffering from the effects of war.

"War is always a defeat, nobody wins, everybody loses, only the arms manufacturers win," he said.

Francis had also presided this week at a two-day meeting of the Council of Cardinals, made up of close advisors, which focused on the role of women in the Church, the Vatican said on Wednesday.

The pope has spoken out against opening up the priesthood to women, but has appointed women to several senior Vatican positions and asked theologians last week to help him "de-masculinize" the church.

(Reporting by Cristina Carlevaro and Alvise Armellini, editing by Keith Weir and Timothy Heritage)