Pope Francis goes to Rome hospital for bowel surgery

Pope Francis goes to Rome hospital for bowel surgery

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis visited a hospital in Rome on Sunday for scheduled surgery for a stricture, or restriction, of the large intestine, the Vatican said.

The brief announcement from the Holy See’s press office did not specify when the operation would be carried out, but indicated that there would be an announcement when the operation was completed.

Barely three hours earlier, Francis had happily greeted the public in St. Peter’s Square according to Sunday tradition and told them that he would be going to Hungary and Slovakia in September.

A week earlier Francis, 84, had used the same appearance to ask the audience for special prayers for himself, which in hindsight might have hinted at the planned surgery at the Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome.

The Vatican said the Pope had been diagnosed with “symptomatic diverticular stenosis of the colon,” a reference to a narrowing of the large intestine.

Francis is generally in good health, but had part of a lung removed when he was young. He also suffers from sciatica, sometimes having painful attacks that involve a nerve affecting his lower back and leg.

Doctors at Gemelli have previously operated on papal patients, including Pope John Paul II, who had a benign colon tumor removed in 1992.