Canada: Pope Francis’s “penitential pilgrimage” reveals his declining health

Now forced to use a rolling chair for part of his trips, the sovereign pontiff seemed exhausted during this trip.


Sitting on a white chair placed far behind the altar, Pope Francis would have been, without the cameras, difficult to visible by the 1,500 faithful gathered in the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré basilica, Thursday, July 28, for the Grande Mass organized in the vicinity of Quebec. The visit of the head of the Catholic Church in Canada, from July 25 to 30, will remain the first where the Argentinian pope has not been able to celebrate the Eucharist himself.

Unable to take more than a few steps due to the acute knee pain which forces him to the rolling chair to move since the beginning of May, François had to be content with presiding over it and saying homily. He had already been the same on Tuesday in the Commonwealth Stadium of Edmonton (Alberta), where 50,000 Catholics had come for him. In Quebec, he could not go up the aisle towards the choir either, before the ceremony with the other celebrants, a moment that the faithful in general, who can thus approach it.

This first trip, since his painful knee prevents him from walking, was a test for his state of form. Since he was forced to cancel his visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan, on June 10, just three weeks before the scheduled departure, some observers speculate on a future renunciation for health reasons. To cut short the rumors, François multiplied the interviews, in July.

A next resignation? “It has never touched my mind. For the moment, no,” even if it remains an option, “he said to the Reuters news agency. “For the moment, I do not think the Lord asks me. When the Lord asks me, yes,” he added for Mexican television. He clarified that he suffered from a “small fracture” on the knee, treated by laser and magnetotherapy, and that he felt “very limited” by this pathology.

contrition and repentance of The Church

While, in the first weeks, he repugnted to show himself in his wheelchair, she ended up winning. During the trip, she even supplanted the papamobile twice – the open car which he uses to cover a certain distance while being close to the crowd -, initially planned. Monday, in Maskwacis, then Tuesday, at Lake Saint-Anne, it allowed him to walk heads with the chiefs and the “elders” of the First Nations, pushed by his butler.

It was ultimately not bad for these meetings intended to demonstrate the contrition and repentance of the Church and its proximity to the different indigenous communities, which all suffered from the treatment inflicted on 150,000 of their children in directed residentialists by Catholic congregations.

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/Media reports.