After a 10 day stay at Agostino Gemelli Hospital, Pope Francis, 84, left the center in apparent “good health” around 10:30 am local time Wednesday morning.
Having undergone colon surgery, Vatican News claims that the Pope “has reacted well” to the operation due to a “diverticular stenosis of the sigma.”
Though the Vatican claims it was planned, his recent surgery is causing a commotion, and skeptics are rightfully critical of the situation.
“In the Vatican there is a joke that the pope is always well until he dies, and even a bit after that,” said Iacopo Scaramuzzi, a Vatican expert who writes for the news agency Askanews. “We should also add that the Vatican, in general, is not the most transparent institution on earth.”
The Vatican has a history of downplaying the severity of papacy health.
In 2005, the Vatican’s then-spokesman told reporters that Pope John Paul II had a breakfast of ten cookies the day after undergoing a tracheotomy to ease respiratory difficulties. He died not long after that.
Not to mention the 900-year-old prophecy by a Catholic Saint named Malachy, who had a prophetic series of visions that predicted the identity of each future Pope.
According to History.com, “This ancient prophecy, buried within the Vatican for centuries, suggests that Pope Francis, the latest in the holy line which stretches back nearly 2000 years, may be destined to be the last Pope.
“It’s a warning of cataclysmic proportions, and one that experts believe is remarkably reinforced by some of the most famous writings and miraculous visions in all of Christianity, which may point to an imminent end to the papacy, a shattering of the Church as we know it, or worse, the apocalyptic end of days.”
Apocalypse or not, the lack of transparency on behalf of the Vatican communications stirred up more questions than it answered, despite their claims that they’ve been more transparent than with the predecessors.
Officials alluded to Pope Francis’ leave of absence in a more general way, as if he was going on a summer vacation, downplaying the severity of the situation.
According to the New York Times, Matteo Bruni, the Vatican spokesperson, released a statement on July 2 saying that “the prefecture of the Pontifical Household had announced that the pope’s general audiences would be suspended for the month for the ‘usual summer pause’ and would start again on Aug. 4.” The statement also says The Pope would continue to address the faithful with his weekly Angelus prayer.
It wasn’t a vacation at all, but an intense, invasive, and in-patient surgery that required a total of 10 days in the hospital instead of the original seven days allotted.
The apparent “scheduled” surgery was not revealed to the public until 3:20 pm the day of the procedure. Bruni sent a message to reporters via Telegram, telling them that the Pope had already been admitted to the hospital for surgery.
A report of success came from the Vatican shortly before midnight, releasing a statement containing the names of the Pope’s many doctors saying that he had “responded well to the operation performed under a general anesthetic.”
“He doesn’t want his hospital admission to become a show,” said Paolo Rodari, a Vatican expert who writes for the Rome-based daily newspaper La Repubblica. “He asked for complete privacy, and that is where the sparse bulletins come from. This is simply his style.”
This isn’t Pope Francis’ first health issue either; he is currently dealing with a limp and, in recent years, has had difficulty walking due to sciatica, a chronic nerve condition that causes back, hip, and leg pain. Francis has called it his “troublesome guest.”
He’s also attributed the limp to a “flat foot” and admitted that he has a narrowing of his intervertebral disc between the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae, for which he is in physiotherapy.
Salvatore Izzo, a Vatican expert and the director of the Vatican News website, who has covered multiple popes and witnessed varying degrees of transparency, said, “They tell the truth, but they tell a part of it. This time it’s really a blackout.”