Pope Francis canceled his planned Dubai trip under doctor’s orders, after he was diagnosed with bronchitis.
“The reason is that it’s very hot there, and you go from heat to air conditioning,” Francis remarked at an audience with healthcare workers on Thursday. “Thank God it wasn’t pneumonia. It’s a very acute, infectious bronchitis.”
Francis turns 87 next month, and had part of his lung removed earlier in his life. His current illness was first reported on Saturday, as he was hospitalized to treat a flu and lung inflammation. He was previously hospitalized with acute bronchitis for three days in April, and had a surgery in June to treat a hernia and scarring from a previous operation.
The Vatican announced Tuesday he was forced to cancel his planned journey to the U.N. climate conference in Dubai due to the illness. He made this decision “with great regret.” While in stable condition, he was forced to rely on aides to deliver readings at his weekly catechism lesson due to continued lung inflammation.
Despite this, Francis spoke at the end of the lesson to express hope for the continuation of the truce between Israel and Hamas, so that humanitarian aid could be provided to Gaza.
“They lack bread, water, the people are suffering,” he said.
Francis also took the time to meet with Glasgow’s soccer team Celtic, and posed for a group photo with visiting performers from the Italian Circus at a general audience at the Vatican.
“I want to say thanks for this moment of joy,” Francis remarked.
The Holy See has yet to determine who will represent it at the Dubai conference in Pope Francis’ absence.