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Pope Francis returns to service at Vatican after hernia surgery

Pope Francis has expressed thanks on Sunday for the support he received after surgery.

Pope Francis has expressed thanks on Sunday for the support he received after surgery. Photo: AP

Two days after being discharged from the hospital, Pope Francis has resumed his cherished Sunday custom of greeting the public in St Peter’s Square.

The Pope expressed thanks for the comfort he received after surgery and thanked the crowd shouting “Long live the Pope!”

Before launching into prepared remarks, Francis expressed gratitude for “affection, attention and friendship” and the assurance of “the support of prayer” during his hospitalisation for June 7 abdominal surgery at a Rome hospital to repair a hernia and remove increasingly painful scarring around his intestines.

“This human and spiritual closeness for me was a great help and comfort,” Francis told some 15,000 people in the square.

“Thanks to all, thanks to you, thanks from the heart.”

The 86-year-old pontiff sounded a bit breathless and hoarse at times, but he gestured frequently with his hands for emphasis, adlibbed at times from the prepared speech, and clearly looked delighted to be back to his routine.

While the thousands of Romans, tourists and pilgrims who regularly turn out for the weekly noon appearance of the Pope at a window of the Apostolic Palace usually applaud when they catch sight of the Pope at the window, this time the public’s applause seemed louder than usual.

The three-hour surgery forced Francis to skip the Sunday appearance on June 11.

While his mood seemed uplifted to see the crowd below, including flag-waving nuns and tourists in sun hats on the hot, humid day, Francis turned sombre as he noted that Tuesday marked World Refugee Day, an occasion promoted by the United Nations.

“With great sadness and so much sorrow I think of the victims of the very grave shipwreck that happened in recent days off the coast of Greece,” Francis said.

He was referring to the smugglers’ overcrowded fishing boat, filled with hundreds of migrants, that sank in the Mediterranean Sea last week.

He also urged people to remember the “martyred people in Ukraine”, following Russia’s invasion last year.

-AP
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