Philippine Catholic Church leaders called on the faithful to pray for the speedy recovery of Pope Francis who underwent a scheduled surgery for colon diverticulitis on Sunday, July 4.
“On behalf of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, I enjoin everyone to pray to the Lord and beg for our Blessed Mother’s intercession for the speedy recovery of Pope Francis,” read a statement signed by Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, president of the bishops’ conference.
“We remember his beautiful and very inspiring Apostolic Visit to our country in 2015. We continue to feel his love for the Filipino people,” said the prelate.
He urged the Filipino faithful to “show our love and affection for him” by praying together for the complete recovery of the pontiff.
The Vatican on Monday announced that Pope Francis is alert, breathing without assistance, and in a good overall condition following the surgery.
The 84-year-old pope is expected to stay in hospital for seven days barring any complications, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement.
The pope underwent a left hemicolectomy, a procedure in which one side of the colon is removed, Bruni said. It was the first time the Vatican had disclosed the specific nature of the surgery.
The statement did not specify whether the decision to remove part of the colon had been taken before or during the surgery.
The scheduled surgery was for symptomatic diverticular stenosis of the colon, a condition in which sac-like pouches protrude from the muscular layer of the colon, leading it to become narrow.
In addition to causing pain, the condition, which is more common in older people, can lead to bloating, inflammation, and difficulty in bowel movement.
It was the first time Pope Francis has been hospitalized since his election as pope in 2013.
The surgery appeared to be timed to coincide with a period in which he has only one public commitment — his Sunday blessing in St. Peter’s Square.
Pope Francis traditionally suspends all his general and private audiences for the month of July, although unlike predecessors, he stays in the Vatican and has never used the sprawling papal summer estate in the cooler Alban Hills, south of Rome.
The Vatican said it was not clear if Pope Francis would leave the hospital in time to make his Sunday blessing as usual. The late Pope John Paul led the prayer from the window of his room and even from his bed during several hospitalizations over the course of his 27-year papacy.
Information about Pope Francis’ health has come via short Vatican statements, a contrast to John Paul’s time, when doctors issued detailed medical bulletins and even held news conferences.
The guidance is believed to come directly from the pope, who guards his privacy more closely than John Paul did. – with a report from Reuters