- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 8, 2021

Pope Francis, already suffering from sciatica and with half of a lung removed, is in more serious condition than the world’s media is letting on, a leading Vatican blogger says.

Luis Badilla, editor of “Il Sismografo” (“The Seismograph”) on Wednesday posted an article claiming the 84-year-old pontiff’s condition is “severe and degenerative,” and “could also be chronic.” The pope had surgery Sunday to remove half his colon, the Vatican said.

On Thursday, Francis, recovering from abdominal surgery at Rome’s Gemelli Polyclinic hospital, “temporarily” ran a fever, but subsequent tests proved negative, the Associated Press reported.

Mr. Badilla, however, wrote that the surgery is not trivial and is likely to be life-altering for the pope.

“The adult and mature [Roman Catholic] faithful understand, albeit with pain, that Pope Francis will live the life that God will give him with many physical and physiological as well as metabolic limitations,” Mr. Badilla wrote. “He will have to be followed continuously with important clinical checks and other hospitalizations.

“Certainly the Holy Father will return to the Vatican to resume his journey in the footsteps of Peter but he will never be the same again,” Mr. Badilla wrote. “All the rhetoric about a [papal] ‘superman’ damages his image and his charisma,” he wrote.

The condition of Pope Francis, previously Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, has been watched closely. He succeeded the now-retired Pope Benedict XVI, who shockingly resigned in 2013 over chronic health issues.

At age 21, Francis was diagnosed with a life-threatening case of pneumonia as well as three cysts, leading to the lung operation. On Jan. 23 of this year, papal spokesman Matteo Bruni disclosed that Francis would miss three events, including a meeting with the Vatican’s diplomatic corps, “due to recurrent sciatica” which makes it difficult for the pope to stand and walk. In 2017, Italian news magazine “Famiglia Cristiana” reported the pontiff was receiving unspecified injections and regular massages to reduce his sciatica pain.

Mr. Badilla, a Chilean who has reported for Vatican Radio, has aggregated news about the Vatican and the pope since 2009. “Il Sismografo” is highly regarded among Vatican-watchers. His comments on Pope Francis‘ condition were first reported in America by Breitbart News.

• Mark A. Kellner can be reached at mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

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