Although he’s made a full recovery from the illness and lung inflammation, Pope Francis has been ordered by doctors to postpone his journey to Dubai for the U.N. climate summit.
Despite his prior resolve to make the trip, he said it was “with deep sorrow” that he agreed to the recommendations of his physicians, according to the Vatican. It was planned that Francis, who will be 87 next month, would depart from Rome on Friday to deliver his speech at the COP28 summit first thing on Saturday morning. On Sunday, he planned to return home after inaugurating a religious pavilion on the conference grounds.
Both presidents and patriarchs have praised Francis for taking a moral stance on environmental protection, which has been one of his top priorities.
All indications from the Vatican pointed to the trip happening until the statement late Tuesday. Earlier in the day, the Vatican spokesperson conducted his customary pre-trip briefing and answered questions about Francis’ scheduled bilateral encounters at the Dubai summit. After the Vatican press office approved accreditation requirements, the travel agency accepted money from journalists to ride aboard the papal jet.
The pope’s declaration was the second time in as many years that he had to cancel a foreign trip because of his fragile health. The first was in 2022 when he had to cancel a trip to the Congo and South Sudan due to knee inflammation; however, he was able to make the trip earlier this year.
Francis, who seems to be more susceptible to respiratory issues, had a portion of a lung removed when he was a young man. Strains on his knee ligaments have also limited his movement, forcing him to rely on a cane or wheelchair.
Francis underwent a CAT scan after becoming ill with the flu late last week; according to the Vatican, the scan ruled out pneumonia. So he could stay warm in his studio on Sunday, he didn’t make his usual appearance at the window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.