Pope cancels trip to U.N. climate conference on doctors' orders after getting the flu
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis canceled his trip to Dubai for the U.N. climate conference on doctors' orders Tuesday even though he is recovering from the flu and lung inflammation, the Vatican said.
Francis was scheduled to leave Rome on Friday to address the COP28 meeting first thing Saturday morning. He also was supposed to inaugurate a faith pavilion Sunday on the sidelines of the conference before returning home.
The pope revealed Sunday that he had lung inflammation but said at the time that he still planned to go to Dubai, where he was to become the first pontiff to address a U.N. climate conference.
Tuesday's announcement marked the second time the pope's frail health had forced the cancellation of a foreign trip: He had to postpone a planned trip to Congo and South Sudan in 2022 because of knee inflammation, though he was able to make the journey earlier this year.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said Francis was improving from the flu and inflammation of his respiratory tract that had forced him to cancel his audiences Saturday. But "the doctors have asked the pope not to make the trip planned for the coming days to Dubai.
"Pope Francis accepted the doctors' request with great regret and the trip is therefore canceled," he added.
Francis, who turns 87 next month, had part of one lung removed as a young man.
Francis came down with the flu late last week. He went to the hospital Saturday for a CAT scan, and the Vatican said the test had ruled out pneumonia.
On Sunday, he skipped his traditional appearance at his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square to avoid the cold. Instead, Francis gave the traditional noon blessing in a televised appearance from the chapel in the Vatican hotel where he lives and asked a priest to read his written daily reflections out loud.
Francis coughed and spoke in a whisper, and sported the cannula in which he was receiving antibiotics intravenously.
People who saw him this week said his health was improving but he still spoke in a whisper.
Francis spent three days at Rome's Gemelli hospital in April for what the Vatican said was bronchitis after he had trouble breathing. He was discharged after receiving intravenous antibiotics.
Francis spent 10 days at the same hospital in July 2021 following intestinal surgery for a bowel narrowing. He was readmitted in June of this year for an operation to repair an abdominal hernia and remove scarring from previous surgeries.
When asked about his health in a recent interview, Francis quipped in reply what has become his standard line — "Still alive, you know."
Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.