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!


We are not expecting another bulletin tonight about Pope Francis as, unless something had greatly changed, it would undoubtedly just reiterate what previous bulletins have said: Pope doing well, resting and in good spirits. And that, of course, is the best news!


Get well wishes and prayers are arriving for Pope Francis from around the world from religious leaders, heads of State and government and simple Catholic faithful who want “their Pope” to heal quickly and completely as he recovers from intestinal surgery on July 4 in Rome’s Gemelli hospital.

*** Built in 1964, Agostino Gemelli Hospital is Rome’s largest hospital and the second largest in all of Italy with its 1,575 beds. It was named for Fr. Agostino Gemelli (January 1878 – July 1959), an Italian Franciscan friar, physician and psychologist. It has a suite of rooms on the 10th floor, including a small chapel, readied for Popes when the occasion arises.

Messages are arriving in great numbers on social media in particular, whereas world civil and religious leaders send emails and telegrams as well as use social media, according to Vatican News reports in Italian and French.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople expressed his closeness to Pope Francis and “fraternal wishes for a rapid convalescence.” He promised prayers and said he was confident of an excellent outcome of the operation.

The Grand Imam of Al Azhar University, Ahmad al-Tayyeb sent wishes via Twitter to his “dear brother” and confirmed the fraternal friendship that links them. He expressed his hope for “a rapid recovery that will restore him to his mission for mankind.”

“May the Lord sustain him with the tenderness of His love” is the message sent by the Anglican Center of Rome, adding that the Holy Father is in their heart.

Additional get well wishes came from Rome’s Jewish community from Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni who tweeted on Sunday: “My best wishes for a speedy recovery to the Pope who has to face a difficult surgery.”

Closeness to Pope Francis in this trying time of recovery was also expressed by the Sant’Egidio Community.

Among the very first messages to arrive for Pope Francis on Sunday was that from Italian President Sergio Mattarella who heard of the surgery as he was enroute to France. He expressed his personal “affectionate thoughts” as well as those of the entire Italian people, together with wishes for a “good convalescence and even better and speedy recovery.” His sentiments were shared by Prime Minister Mario Draghi and members of the Italian government.

Italian bishops tweeted their individual best wishes and prayerful support, together with a message from Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, president of the Italian Episcopal Conference. Special wishes came in from the Vicariate of the diocese of Rome, whose bishop is the Pope. Expressing “filial devotion in this time of illness,” it added: “All the faithful holy people of God who are in Rome, together with citizens and all men of good will, with a keen sense of participation and closeness to the Holy Father, raise prayers and supplications to the Lord so that with the help of His grace, He sustains and consoles our beloved Bishop during his post-operative convalescence.”

World leaders expressing their closeness to Pope Francis and wishes for a speedy and total recovery include President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria who invited all Nigerians to gather in prayer, the president of Malta George Vella and Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela. In his message, sent in the name of the people of Venezuela, Maduro entrusted Pope Francis to Blessed Jose Gregorio Hernandez Cisneros, the celebrated “doctor of the poor” who was beatified April 30 in Caracas.



July 5 noon bulletin with statement by the director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni: “His Holiness Pope Francis is in good general condition, alert and spontaneously breathing. The surgery for diverticular stenosis carried out on the evening of 4 July involved a left hemicolectomy and lasted about 3 hours. A hospital stay of about 7 days is expected, barring complications.”