Vatican: ‘Nothing to worry about’ as tired Pope Francis cancels meetings

At a June 8, 2014, vatican prayer meeting, Pope Francis urged Palestianian and Israeli leaders to focus on unity over division. Creative Commons image by Mazur

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis canceled a second day of private audiences and his morning Mass on Tuesday (June 10) because of a minor illness, but Vatican officials downplayed speculation about ill health.

Pope Francis greets a crowd on his way to a meeting with cardinals at the Vatican on Feb. 21, 2014. RNS photo by David Gibson

Pope Francis greets a crowd on his way to a meeting with cardinals at the Vatican on Feb. 21, 2014. RNS photo by David Gibson

The Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the pope had postponed several appointments and was resting.

“There is nothing to worry about,” Lombardi said. “His life has been very intense in the past few weeks. It is totally normal for the pope to rest.”

Lombardi said 77-year-old Francis would be well enough to attend his general audience Wednesday.

Francis has set a frantic pace since he was elected pope last year, and his schedule intensified in recent weeks he traveled to the Middle East on a demanding three-day official visit. After celebrating Pentecost Sunday, he hosted the Israeli and Palestinian presidents for a momentous Vatican prayer summit Sunday evening.

Vatican officials have privately expressed concern at the pope’s heavy workload, particularly since he had a portion of one lung removed as a young man. Italian media reports have also suggested he has suffered from back pain recently.

After meeting Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday, the pope had a busy morning of engagements Monday, including a meeting with Cardinal George Pell, who heads the Vatican economic secretariat.

While it is customary for popes to take a break during the summer and leave Rome for the palace at Castel Gandolfo, Francis has chosen to stay in Rome and work, even as his closest advisers are pushing him to take a vacation.

Francis is planning to visit South Korea from Aug. 13-18 and is expected to visit Sri Lanka and the Philippines for a two-day visit in January.


About the author

Josephine McKenna

Josephine McKenna has more than 30 years' experience in print, broadcast and interactive media. Based in Rome since 2007, she covered the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and election of Pope Francis and canonizations of their predecessors. Now she covers all things Vatican for RNS.


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  • “There is nothing to worry about,” Lombardi said.

    Now why would we have any problem trusting the words of religious people?

  • Francis has only been at the game for a year…look at how long St. JPII the Great held it together, even while ill. I suspect this pope is growing weary of those of his “faithful” flock telling him to speak clearly, to back off from the liberal and wrongful rhetoric. I know that I am sick of reading his interviews and learning that he doesn’t have much respect for those of us who have been faithful to the Majesterium for most our lives. If he’s tired, tell him to consider the lives of the saints who endured so MUCH MORE for Christianity’s sake, for God’s sake, and for Jesus’ sake. I think our modern and ancient martyrs carried on when they would have wished that the cup they had to drink from might be removed. Look at the priests who died and/or suffered in concentration camps of Nazism; of Cardinal Mindzenty of Hungary; of the martyred apostles; too many to mention. I will certainly pray for his health to return to full bloom. Perhaps this is good “down time” for him in which to reconsider his past commentaries and vague interviews.

  • 20 years my senior, out paces me. The older I get the more I have to learn, it gets discouraging some times. In my personal experience the Roman Catholic religious are astounding men and women in their faith and in their intellect – God Bless and sustain them.

  • Except I have never been a bigot or suggested conspiracies.

    The Catholic church is an openly criminal organization
    and is a protectorate unto itself – no conspiracy at all about it – it is OPENLY harboring Cardinal Bernie Law the CRIMINAL Pedophile Kingpin of The Boston Archdiocese who has evaded justice for more than 15 years as he hides in his cloistered cushy Cardinal Condo!

    Shame on this church. Shame on Christianity.

  • I have no problem with loving people – I LOVE YOU TOO!!
    Why did you bring God into this?

    He has nothing to do with my love for you!

  • Wow, how disrespectful to our Pope. Faithful to the Majesterium? Are you a Catholic?! Because this is OUR Pope, our Shepherd…and you are talking as if he’s some politician. But you know better, we should listen to you instead, and also, he shouldn’t be allowed to rest if he becomes sick or weary…I wonder what Pope Benedict or John Paul II would think of your disrespectful comments.

  • Religious people????? that’s really putting everyone in the same category!! there are scum and good in every group….shame on you for labeling everyone the same..

  • Thank you for pointing this out. The Vatican is being exposed for what it has always been. Many institutions are not what they have appeared to be. The flocks will be shocked.

  • you know what? don’t trust any man. God is the Only One to trust. “Jesus said, I am the way the Life and the truth and no man comes to the Father but by me.’ not by any religion, or any ism or any pagan religion or philosophy , new age or anything else, because there is ‘nothing new under the sun.’ also don’t make oneself a god. any thing can be a god, including something more important than God Almighty. can anyone prove there is no true God? no one can. we can accept Jesus or reject him. the Father has given him, Jesus the power to send us to heaven or hell. guess what? the popes, leaders, kings etc will all go to hell with their god Lucifer if they don’t repent. Their conscience is probably seared like an iron. most people are in la la land. read site and see if your blood does not boil. governments are involved not just popes drinking blood and eating babies and kids.