POPE FRANCIS: “POSTOPERATIVE COURSE IS NORMAL”

POPE FRANCIS: “POSTOPERATIVE COURSE IS NORMAL”

A 40-plus word communiqué, an update on the Pope’s post op situation, was released at noon today by the Holy See Press Office. I added the date and posted that on Facebook and Twitter:

July 6, 2021 – 12 noon Rome – Holy See Press Office director Matteo Bruni: His Holiness Pope Francis rested well during the night. This morning he had breakfast, read some newspapers and got up to walk. The postoperative course is regular. Routine follow-up exams are good.

The Vatican website publishes the same information. Today they added a story on the get-well wishes arriving for Pope Francis.

Unless there would be complications or some infection, we expect bulletins to be somewhat brief and matter-of-fact, outlining the pope’s daily routine and progress.

Those of us in the media who experienced Pope John Paul’s various hospitalizations have greatly different memories. The media presence was usually gigantic, especially (as one could well imagine!) after he was shot on May 13, 1981, and in subsequent years. Press Office and hospital bulletins were generally frequent and quite often filled with medical terms that required some research and conversations with doctors who had performed identical surgeries.

I was working for the Vatican Information Service for a number of John Paul’s hospitalizations, as well as at the end of his life, and remember two things about the medical bulletins: 1. The then press office director Joaquin Navarro-Valls, himself a medical doctor, decided that bulletins had to be given out in English as well as Italian, knowing that more people around the world would know English as a first or second language than Italian, and 2. We had to buy an English-Italian medical dictionary!

I was the English language writer and editor at VIS at the time and all those medical translations fell into my hands. I double- and triple-checked the translations and then gave them to Joaquin, also fluent in Italian and English as well as his native Spanish, who gave the go-ahead for a press office bulletin in two languages. VIS daily bulletins were in English and Spanish and over time we added French and Italian.

In the final months, weeks and days of John Paul’s life, translating the press office medical bulletins into English from Italian was in my hands – medical reports, the Pope’s last will and testament and many other documents. It was a heady assignment – and so very sad. Some days I was simply overcome by emotion!

Less information of a strictly medical nature is coming out of the press office and Gemelli hospital. The only danger in less information, rather than more, is having people do research on their own and perhaps coming to conclusions that are not correct.

One thing we know for sure – prayers and get-well wishes are still pouring in from the around the world for a speedy recovery for the Holy Father! To which we add ours!