UPDATE: Vatican News reports that Pope Francis has emerged from more than three hours of surgery and that the surgery was completed with no complications.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis was scheduled to undergo surgery at Rome’s Gemelli hospital on June 7 to treat a hernia that had developed at an incision of a previous operation, the Vatican said.
The pope was to be put under general anesthesia and undergo abdominal surgery involving “plastic surgery on the abdominal wall with a prosthesis,” Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office, said in a brief statement released shortly after the pope’s morning general audience June 7.
He was expected to remain in the hospital for several days.
The operation, “agreed upon in recent days by the medical team assisting the Holy Father, has become necessary due to an incisional hernia” causing “recurring, painful and worsening” intestinal blockage, the statement said. An incisional hernia might occur at the site of an incision in the abdominal wall.
The pope briefly visited the Gemelli hospital’s geriatric medical center for a medical checkup and tests on June 6. According to the Italian news agency ANSA, he was there for some 40 minutes before returning to the Vatican.
Pope Francis was previously hospitalized for 10 days in July 2021 to treat diverticulitis, a condition marked by the inflammation of bulges lining the intestine, and underwent surgery that removed part of his colon. In January 2023, the pope told the Associated Press that the bulges in his intestinal wall had returned.
The pope has said that he did not respond well to the general anesthetic used during his colon operation and said that reaction was part of the reason he declined having torn ligaments in his knee operated on. For more than a year Pope Francis has been using a wheelchair in many of his public events.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) asked for prayers for Pope Francis in a tweet sent Wednesday morning: “Pope Francis goes to Gemelli Hospital for intestinal surgery after his weekly general audience. Let us pray for the Holy Father’s well-being; May his surgery be successful, his health be restored, and his recovery swift. “