Pope Francis resumes public audiences a month after major surgery

Rome — A month after being hospitalized for colon surgery, Pope Francis resumed his weekly public audiences Wednesday, using the event to mark the anniversary of the Beirut port explosion and to reiterate his intention to visit Lebanon. A smiling Francis walked without assistance before a crowd of several hundred tourists and pilgrims in a Vatican auditorium, where he recalled the “victims, their families, the injured and all those who lost homes and work” in the Beirut blast.

“My desire to visit you is great,” Francis said.

The pope underwent planned surgery on July 4 to remove half of his colon following a severe narrowing of his large intestine. It was his first major surgery since he became pope in 2013. It was scheduled for early July when the pope’s audiences are suspended anyway and Francis would normally take some time off.

During his recovery at the hospital, Francis prayed the Angelus prayer from a 10th-floor balcony before well-wishers gathered below.

He was discharged July 14.

Pope Francis leads his general audience at the Nervi Hall on August 4, 2021, in Vatican City.
Pope Francis leads his general audience at the Nervi Hall on August 4, 2021, in Vatican City.

Alessandra Benedetti – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

His work schedule gets busy in September, when he plans to visit Hungary and Slovakia for four days. In November, he’ll make a quick stop in Glasgow, Scotland, to participate in the U.N. climate change conference known as COP26. Other possible trips are also under review.

The 84-year-old pope suffers from an ailing hip and sciatica that causes him to limp. He also had part of one lung removed when he was a young man but has otherwise enjoyed relatively robust health.

The pope has expressed his desire to visit Lebanon several times, including while aboard the papal plane after a trip to Iraq in March.

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