“Accepting the request of his doctors, and in order not to compromise the results of the knee therapies still in progress, the Holy Father, to his great regret, is forced to postpone his trip (…) to a later date which remains to be defined”, announced in a press release the director of the press service of the Holy See, Matteo Bruni.

The press release does not mention the trip to Canada scheduled for July 24 to 30, but this “is maintained until further notice”, the press office of the Holy See told AFP.

The postponement of his African visit, initially scheduled for July 2 to 7, comes as preparations were in full swing, the Vatican having itself unveiled the detailed program of this trip where the sovereign pontiff was to go to Kinshasa, Goma and Juba.

Suffering from severe pain in his right knee, the Argentine pope, who has appeared in a wheelchair since the beginning of May, announced that he was undergoing infiltrations, injections of corticosteroid-based anti-inflammatories.

According to a Vatican source, the treatment “is taking its course and bearing fruit”. “He is better and in less pain, but not enough to be able to leave,” she said, adding that no surgery was planned at the moment.

“The Pope is very saddened by this decision: he tried until the end, because he was very keen on this trip, but he had no other choice”, underlined this source.

“I’ve been in this state for a while, I can’t walk anymore,” the pope confided in May in an interview with the Italian daily Il Corriere della Sera, after being forced to cancel several meetings.

– Unfounded rumors –

The state of health of the pope, who appeared grimacing in pain when he stood up during public appearances in St. Peter’s Square, recently revived the concern of observers in the Vatican, reviving the hypothesis of a possible resignation of Francis.

If the Vatican refuses to react to these rumours, the sovereign pontiff “keeps all his head” and remains “determined”, argues another Vatican source, which brushes aside the many articles that have appeared in the press, in particular in Italy, on the assumption of the pope renouncing his office.

“In the name of the Congolese people, the government of the Republic wishes Pope Francis a speedy recovery and reassures him that he is firmly waiting for him in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” the Minister of Communication and spokesperson reacted in a press release. of the government, Patrick Muyaya.

“We are humans, so it is normal that he cannot interrupt his therapy,” Bishop Donatien Nshole, spokesperson and secretary general of the Congo bishops’ conference, told AFP, saying he hoped ” that this visit will be rescheduled very soon”.

The archbishop of the South Sudanese capital Juba, Stephen Ameyu, considered that it was necessary “to accept this situation”.

“This announcement does not prevent us from preparing because the Holy Father is postponing his visit, he is not canceling it,” he told a press conference.

In May, Lebanon had already announced the postponement of the pope’s visit scheduled for June, citing “health reasons”, but this is the first time that the Vatican has announced the postponement of a trip abroad for health reasons.

In early April, during a two-day trip to Malta, the Holy Father appeared weakened by his joint problems and had to use a lifting platform to get on and off his plane.

Jorge Bergoglio also suffers from hip pain which makes him limp and underwent a delicate colon operation in July 2021.