ROME — The Vatican announced late Sunday that Pope Francis has “reacted well” to a surgical operation to address diverticulitis.
On Sunday afternoon, the director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, said that the pope had been admitted to the Gemelli Polyclinic Hospital in Rome for “planned surgery” for a symptomatic diverticular stenosis of the colon.
Later in the evening, Bruni stated that Francis had successfully undergone the operation. He also said that the intervention was conducted under general anesthesia, while providing the names of attending doctors.
A pope being admitted to hospital, especially for surgery, always sparks speculation about papal succession, especially since the true state of the pontiff’s health is never entirely clear.
In February 2005, Pope John Paul II was admitted to the same Gemelli Hospital to treat breathing issues, an event that inaugurated a sharp decline in his health leading to his death on April 2.
The year 2020 saw the release of two books in English bearing the identical title, The Next Pope, which contained reflections on the qualities and possible candidates for replacing Pope Francis when the time comes.
The Next Pope: The Office of Peter and a Church in Mission was written by George Weigel, a well-known Catholic intellectual and biographer of Pope John Paul II. The book explores the role of the papacy in contemporary times as well as the particular skills and qualities that a candidate for the post should possess.
For his part, Edward Pentin, a Catholic author and journalist, published The Next Pope: The Leading Cardinal Candidates, an in-depth analysis of members of the current college of cardinals, the pool from which the next pope will be chosen.
In 2015, Pope Francis said he expected his pontificate to be short, a prediction that did not prove true.
“I have a feeling my pontificate will be brief,” Francis told Mexico’s Televisa channel. “Four or five years, I don’t know. Two years have already gone by. It is a vague feeling I have that the Lord chose me for a short mission. I am always open to that possibility.”