Pope forced to pull out of COP28 trip because of health issues


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Pope forced to pull out of COP28 trip because of health issues

PONTIFF. Pope Francis leads the weekly general audience in Saint Peter's Square, at the Vatican, November 8, 2023.

Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters

(1st UPDATE) Pope Francis agrees not to travel 'with great regret,' though the Vatican will look into ways that would allow him to contribute to the discussions remotely

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis has canceled his planned trip to the COP28 climate meeting in Dubai because of the effects of influenza and lung inflammation, the Vatican said on Tuesday, November 28, adding to concerns about his health.

The Pope, who is 86, was due to begin a three-day visit to Dubai on Friday, December 1, and the Vatican had said earlier on Tuesday that he was going ahead with the trip.

“Although the Holy Father’s general clinical condition has improved with regard to the flu and inflammation of the respiratory tract, doctors have asked the Pope not to make the trip planned for the coming days to Dubai,” the Vatican said.

The Pope had agreed not to travel “with great regret,” it added, saying that it would look into ways that the leader of the world’s Roman Catholics could contribute to the discussions remotely.

In a briefing earlier on Tuesday, Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni had said Francis would deliver one of the keynote speeches in Dubai on Saturday, December 2, and have bilateral meetings the same day with about 30 people, including about 20 heads of state.

The Pope had also met with Spanish bishops visiting the Vatican on Tuesday.

Concern for the environment

The Pope has made protection of the environment one of the cornerstones of his pontificate.

In a document issued in October, Francis had appealed to climate change deniers and foot-dragging politicians to have a change of heart, saying they cannot gloss over its human causes or deride scientific facts while the planet “may be nearing the breaking point.”

Francis also said the transition to clean, renewable energy and the abandonment of fossil fuels was not going fast enough.

The Vatican had announced on Monday, November 27, the Pope would limit his activities this week in order to conserve his strength after contracting the flu.

A CT scan done at a Rome hospital on Saturday, November 25, excluded pneumonia but detected inflammation in the Pope’s lungs that caused breathing difficulties. He was receiving antibiotics intravenously, the Vatican said on Monday.

As a young man in his native Argentina, Francis had part of a lung removed. –

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