Pope Francis abruptly leaves stations of the cross over health problems

 March 31, 2024

Pope Francis made a significant adjustment to his schedule on Good Friday, opting to remain at home instead of leading the Stations of the Cross at Rome’s Colosseum, as initially planned.

The decision, announced by the Vatican Press Office, cited the Pope's desire to conserve his health for upcoming events, notably the Vigil and Holy Mass on Easter Sunday.

The announcement

This announcement came unexpectedly, following an earlier confirmation of the pontiff’s participation. Vatican News noted that Francis had also forgone the Viacrucis ceremony in 2023, with Cardinal Angelo de Donatis stepping in at the Colosseum.

The 87-year-old Pope has encountered several recent health challenges, occasionally relying on aides to deliver prepared speeches. Last weekend, for instance, Francis decided at the last minute against delivering his Palm Sunday homily, although by Thursday, he seemed to have recovered.

He presided over both the Chrism Mass in the morning and the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper in person.

Other recent health issues

In February, the Pope canceled all scheduled activities twice due to persistent flu, according to statements from the Vatican Press Office.

In January, Francis attended a meeting with Catholic communicators from France but refrained from delivering his prepared remarks due to bronchitis.

Similar respiratory issues led to the cancellation of his trip to Dubai in early December, where he was scheduled to address the COP28 U.N. Climate Change Conference.

Upcoming trips in question

Despite these challenges, the Vatican has confirmed the Pope's intention to travel to Venice on April 28. During this visit, he plans to greet artists participating in the annual Biennale exhibition and inaugurate the Vatican pavilion sponsored by the Dicastery for Culture and Education.

The decision to alter his Good Friday plans underscores ongoing concerns about Pope Francis's health. W

hile the Vatican downplayed the significance of his absence, pointing out his previous non-participation in 2023, the frequency of recent cancellations and adjustments has raised questions about his well-being.

Nevertheless, the Pope's determination to fulfill essential duties, such as presiding over Easter services and engaging in significant events like the Venice visit, demonstrates his commitment to his role as spiritual leader of the Catholic Church.

As the faithful worldwide continue to pray for his health and strength, Pope Francis remains a figure of great significance, both within the Church and beyond, as he navigates the challenges of his papacy with resilience and resolve.

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