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Pope Francis skips scheduled meetings due to a fever, Vatican says

Vatican City — Pope Francis skipped meetings Friday because he was running a fever. The Vatican No. 2, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said Francis was tired and attributed the fever to the fact that Francis had greeted, one by one, a particularly big crowd of his school foundation Thursday afternoon.

"He wanted to greet all of them and probably at a certain point lost his resistance," Parolin was quoted as saying by the LaPresse news agency.

The last time Francis spiked a serious fever, in March, the 86-year-old pontiff was rushed to the hospital where he was diagnosed with acute bronchitis. He received intravenous antibiotics and was released three days later.

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A Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak about the pope's health, said Francis didn't receive anyone in audience Friday "because of a feverish state."

There were no formal audiences scheduled Friday, but Francis keeps a separate, private and unofficial agenda of meetings with people he receives at his residence.

Francis has had a busy week, presiding over a meeting of the Italian bishops conference, participating in an afternoon encounter Thursday with his school foundation Scholas Occurentes, as well as meeting with several other prelates and visiting dignitaries.

He is due to preside over Pentecost Mass on Sunday in St. Peter's Basilica, and in a sign that he was expected to recover quickly, the Vatican on Friday announced a new official audience with Italian President Sergio Mattarella, scheduled for Monday.

Pope Francis participates in the conclusion of the first World Congress of Eco-Educational Cities
Pope Francis participates in the conclusion of the first World Congress of Eco-Educational Cities at the Patristic Institute Augustinianum in Rome, Italy, May 25, 2023. Grzegorz Galazka/Archivio Grzegorz Galazka/Mondadori Portfolio/Getty

The hospitalization in March was Francis' first since he spent 10 days at Rome's Gemelli hospital in July 2021 to have 13 inches of his colon removed.  

Francis had part of one lung removed when he was a young man due to a respiratory infection, and he often speaks in a whisper. But he got through the worst phases of the COVID-19 pandemic without any public word of ever testing positive.

The pontiff also used a wheelchair frequently over the last year due to strained ligaments in his right knee and a small knee fracture. More recently he said the injury was healing and he's been walking more with a cane.

Francis has said he resisted having surgery for the knee problems because he didn't respond well to general anesthesia during the 2021 intestinal surgery.

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