Convalescing Pope Francis Bows Out of Grandparents’ Day Mass

Pope Francis prays during a mass on the occasion of the feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, on November 9, 2019 at the Basilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP) (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images)
FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Images

ROME — The Vatican revealed a change in Pope Francis’s calendar Friday, saying the pontiff will not celebrate Mass on Grandparents’ Day this Sunday as originally planned.

Pope Francis “is recovering from his recent operation” and will not preside over the July 25 Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica, when the Catholic Church will celebrate the first feast day dedicated to grandparents, Vatican sources confirmed to Europa Press.

The pope’s agenda included the celebration of a Mass in the basilica, but his doctors decided it was better to dispense him from this exertion for a better recovery, the sources said.

The booklet for Sunday’s liturgical celebration, which the Vatican released on Friday, still lists Pope Francis as the presiding priest for the Mass.

Vatican sources downplayed the importance of the change in the pope’s calendar, insisting it is nothing other than “purely post-operative routine” for a convalescing pope.

The pope was admitted to Rome’s Gemelli Polyclinic Hospital on American Independence Day (July 4) and released ten days later, returning to the Vatican on July 14.

Initially, papal spokesman Matteo Bruni said Francis was expected “to remain in hospital for approximately seven days, barring any complications,” but he later amended his message when the pope’s stay had to be extended.

On July 7, Luis Badilla, editor of the semi-official Vatican news aggregator Il Sismografo, published an article underscoring the gravity of the pope’s health situation and the operation he underwent.

The disease that has affected Pope Francis is “severe and degenerative” and “could also be chronic,” Badilla wrote, adding that what was intended to be simple laparoscopic surgery turned into a much more invasive intervention.

On July 13, Jesuit Father Thomas Reese proposed that “the hospitalization of Pope Francis marks the beginning of the end of his papacy,” adding that time “is running out” for the 84-year-old pontiff.

Even though the pope’s surgery for diverticular stenosis seems to have been successful, Father Reese stated, “it will be miraculous if he is able to continue as pope for another five years.”

“We may look back at his hospitalization as the moment that marked the beginning of the end of his papacy,” he suggested.

Reese touted the pope’s “incredible achievements” during his seven years as pope, highlighting his positions on migrants and refugees, global warming, and capitalism.

“In short, Francis has rebranded the papacy for the 21st century with a pastoral, prophetic, and inclusive voice,” Reese declared while praising the pope’s downplaying of Catholic doctrine.

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