By Philip Pullella
ROME (Reuters) – Pope Francis’ overall condition is progressively improving and his post-surgical recovery is normal, allowing him to get out of bed, be detached from intravenous tubes and resume handling some Church work from his hospital armchair on Friday.
Two statements from the Vatican, one in the early afternoon and the other in the evening offered a picture of the pope on the mend two days after a three-hour operation to repair an abdominal hernia.
The first said he had another restful night and began to move around, spending most of the morning in an armchair from where he read newspapers and began resuming Church work.
The second said he was no longer connected to intravenous tubes, which are used to deliver nourishment and medication after operations. He had started a liquid diet and had no fever, it said.
Given the increasingly positive nature of the medical bulletins so far, they suggested that the pope will be strong enough to appear on the balcony of his 10th-floor suite to recite his traditional noon prayer on Sunday.
He did so during his stay in the same hospital for abdominal surgery in 2021 in which he had part of his colon removed in an operation aimed at addressing a painful bowel condition called diverticulitis.
The pope earlier this year said the condition had returned and was one cause of his increasing weight.
The current hospital stay is the third for Francis since cardinals chose the Argentinian in 2013 as the first Latin American pope, and it is the latest in a string of health problems for him.
He was hospitalised for a few days in March for treatment of bronchitis.
Dr. Sergio Alfieri, the chief surgeon who operated on the pope, on Wednesday said Francis had reacted well to general anaesthesia and he expects the pontiff to be in the hospital for about five to seven days.
But Alfieri cautioned that while the pope was strong he was also elderly and recently had bronchitis, so “we will take all necessary precautions” regarding the length of the hospital stay.
Doctors have said that the operation was successful enough that he should have no limitations on his travels and other activities after he recovers.
Francis has two trips planned for this summer, to Portugal Aug. 2-6 for World Youth Day and to visit the Shrine of Fatima and to Mongolia Aug. 31-Sept. 4, one of the more remote places he will have visited in his travels.