Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

Surgeon: Pope Francis ‘well, awake, alert’ after operation

Dr. Sergio Alfieri, the lead surgeon for Pope Francis' abdominal surgery, speaks at a press conference at Gemelli Hospital on June 7, 2023. / Andreas Thonhauser/EWTN

Rome Newsroom, Jun 7, 2023 / 13:15 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis is awake after reacting well to both surgery and general anesthetic, an Italian surgeon said Wednesday afternoon.

Pope Francis “is well, awake, alert, and already made his first joke 10 minutes ago,” Dr. Sergio Alfieri said June 7 during a brief press conference at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital, where Pope Francis is recovering following abdominal surgery.

Alfieri, director of the hospital’s abdominal surgery department, is the same surgeon who removed part of Pope Francis’ colon during an operation to treat diverticulitis in July 2021.

The surgeon told journalists that from a medical point of view, there would be nothing preventing the pope from continuing with his planned travels to Portugal and Mongolia in August after his recovery.

The conditions treated by the surgery on June 7 and the prior operation of July 2021 were both benign and have been resolved, the surgeon said in response to questions.

“The pope does not have other illnesses,” he underlined.

Alfieri noted that Francis had been experiencing pain for several months due to an incisional hernia and decided June 6 to undergo the surgery to correct it.

An incisional hernia is a type of abdominal wall hernia at the site of a previous surgical incision. The surgeon said the hernia may have come about following past operations Francis underwent in Argentina, including for peritonitis, a redness or swelling of the lining of the abdomen often caused by appendicitis.

Alfieri said Francis was already cracking jokes and had asked him when the next surgery would be.

In a statement issued late Wednesday, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said “Pope Francis is alert and conscious and thankful for the many messages of closeness and prayer that have immediately reached him.”

Alfieri was assisted by Drs. Valerio Papa, Roberta Menghi, Antonio Tortorelli, and Giuseppe Quero. The anesthetist was Dr. Massimo Antonelli, who was assisted by Drs. Teresa Sacco, Paola Aceto, Maurizio Soave, and Giuseppina Annetta.

The head physician of the Vatican’s health and hygiene office, Dr. Luigi Carbone, was also present in the operating room.

Pope Francis left for the hospital immediately after greeting pilgrims at his Wednesday general audience June 7.

At the start of the audience, he had prayed before a relic of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

The pope was taken to Gemelli Hospital in a white Fiat 500 with tinted windows with a police escort.

The operation took place in the early afternoon and lasted three hours, the Vatican said.

California honors anti-Catholic drag group ‘Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence’ at state capitol

California legislators honored "Sister Roma" of the anti-Catholic activist group "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence" at the state capitol Monday, June 5, 2023. / California State Assembly official website livestream, assembly.ca.gov/media

Washington D.C., Jun 7, 2023 / 12:25 pm (CNA).

Michael Williams, who goes by the name “Sister Roma” and is a member of the San Francisco chapter of an anti-Catholic drag group known as the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence,” was honored by the California state Legislature on Monday.

Outside the capitol, hundreds of Catholics and other Christians held a prayer vigil, and several members of the California Republican Caucus walked out of the capitol in protest while Williams was honored. 

Inside the capitol, Williams received a standing ovation on the assembly floor, and several lawmakers posed for photos with Williams, who was wearing a black gown, heavy white makeup, and a large purple-blue wig. 

California Senate Minority Leader Brian Jones issued a statement calling the decision to honor “Sister Roma” at the capitol a “slap in the face to Catholics who cherish their faith and hold it as a cornerstone of their identity.”

“By inviting a prominent leader of this hateful group, Senate Democrats have shown a blatant disregard for the 10 million Catholic Californians in our state,” Jones said. “Were this group to spread hateful messages about Jews, Muslims, Hindus, or any other religion, Senate Democrats would certainly not extend this invitation.”

A national drag group, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence uses Catholic religious imagery and themes in protests and sexualized performances to raise awareness and money for LGBTQ+ causes. The performers call themselves nuns and regularly use the images of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and women religious.

A member of the drag group since 1987, Williams is an activist, pornography filmmaker, and one of the most well-known Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. 

Williams was honored along with other prominent LGBTQ+ figures and was invited by state Sen. Scott Wiener, who is also a well-known LGBTQ+ activist.

Before Williams was honored, the California Senate Republican Caucus sent a letter to the Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins requesting she retract the invitation to “Sister Roma.” Atkins refused, calling the request a “misguided distraction on the first day of Pride month.”

The California Legislature’s decision to honor the drag queen activist comes amid controversy over the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence being honored by the Los Angeles Dodgers at a Major League Baseball game on June 16. The team’s decision to honor the group has been decried by prominent Catholics and Christians, including Dodgers pitcher Blake Treinen, who said it “disenfranchises a large community and promotes hate of Christians and people of faith.”

Vatican: Pope Francis out of surgery, recovering in hospital

Pope Francis at his Wednesday general audience in St. Peter's Square June 7, 2023. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Rome Newsroom, Jun 7, 2023 / 10:50 am (CNA).

The Vatican said Wednesday evening that Pope Francis is out of surgery and that the abdominal operation he underwent “took place without complications.”

The 86-year-old pope will remain in Rome’s Gemelli Hospital for several days to recover after the surgery, according to the Vatican’s spokesman.

In a surgery lasting three hours, Pope Francis underwent a laparotomy and abdominal wall reconstruction using prosthetic materials in the early afternoon of June 7.

The operation under general anesthesia was planned by the pope’s medical team in recent days after it became necessary due to a hernia that was causing recurrent, painful, and worsening symptoms, according to Matteo Bruni, the director of the Holy See Press Office.

The surgery attempted to repair an incisional hernia, a type of abdominal wall hernia at the site of a previous surgical incision. In the pope’s case, this could be the result of the scarring caused by the pope’s colon surgery in July 2021.

The Italian newspaper Il Messaggero reported that the surgeon in charge of the pope’s operation was Sergio Alfieri, the same surgeon who operated on Pope Francis in July 2021 when the pope had part of his colon removed due to diverticulitis.

Pope Francis left for the hospital immediately after greeting pilgrims at his Wednesday general audience, where the pope prayed before a relic of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

The pope was taken to Gemelli Hospital in a white Fiat 500 with tinted windows with a police escort. 

Once news of the pope’s surgery broke, people began to gather in front of the hospital where he was being treated.

“We follow him with our affection. We follow him with our prayers, hoping that everything will be resolved as soon as possible and he will return to the exercise of his ministry,” Cardinal Pietro Parolin told journalists when asked about the pope’s health.

The cardinal added that he expects that Pope Francis will continue to work from his hospital bed as he recovers.

“Even if from a hospital bed, he will resume the exercise of his ministry. So if there are things that need to be decided, urgently, they will be brought to him at the Gemelli hospital,” Parolin said, according to Sky News.

Pope Francis has been hospitalized three times in the past two years. The pope was hospitalized for four days in March for a lung infection and has also dealt this year with a recurrence of diverticulitis, a painful inflammation of bulges in the large intestine following his operation in July 2021.

Since early 2022 the pope has suffered from knee pain. He started to have difficulty standing and walking and has been using a cane and wheelchair for more than a year.

Pope Francis told the Italian bishops in May last year that he did not want to have his knee operated on because he did not want to recover from general anesthesia again following his last surgery.

An Italian diocese noted in a press release on June 7 that it had been notified by the Prefecture of the Papal Household that all of Pope Francis’ audiences, including general audiences, have been canceled until June 18 due to the pope’s surgery.

Pope Francis’ appointments canceled until June 18, Italian diocese says

Pope Francis on the morning of June 7, 2023 shortly before heading to the hospital for abdominal surgery greets pilgrims at his general audience in St. Peter's Square. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Rome Newsroom, Jun 7, 2023 / 10:15 am (CNA).

Pope Francis’ audiences have been canceled until June 18, an Italian Catholic diocese said Wednesday, citing the Prefecture of the Papal Household.

The communications office of the Diocese of Teramo-Atri sent a press release June 7 expressing the bishop’s closeness to Francis after the pope was hospitalized to undergo abdominal surgery Wednesday afternoon.

According to a tweet posted by Vatican News, Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni also told journalists the pope’s audiences were suspended until June 18 “as a precautionary measure.”

Catholics of the Diocese of Teramo-Atri, which is in central Italy’s Abruzzo region, were scheduled to meet Pope Francis in Rome in St. Peter’s Square on the morning of Saturday, June 17.

Bishop Lorenzo Leuzzi invited Catholics to unite in prayer for Pope Francis’ healing, especially on the solemnity of Corpus Christi, which will be celebrated on Sunday.

The Fratelli Tutti Foundation, which had organized an event with Pope Francis and Nobel laureates to take place in St. Peter’s Square on June 10, has said the gathering will go on as planned, at the pope’s request.

Pope Francis was taken to Rome’s Gemelli Hospital shortly after 11 a.m. on June 7 for a surgery under general anesthesia, the Vatican said.

The hospitalization followed Francis’ participation in the usual Wednesday general audience, at which he venerated a relic of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

According to spokesman Matteo Bruni, Francis on Wednesday is undergoing an operation to repair a hernia through a laparotomy and abdominal wall reconstruction with prosthetic material.

The Vatican said the 86-year-old pope would spend “several days” in the hospital post-surgery.

Pope Francis visited the same hospital Tuesday for less than an hour, the Vatican confirmed June 6, following the publication of Italian media reports.

The pope’s surgery may be to repair a hernia that formed in the scar of the incision following his colon operation in July 2021 for diverticulitis.

Francis recovered in a hospital wing reserved for papal medical emergencies for 11 days following the July 4, 2021, surgery.

It is the same medical suite at Gemelli Hospital where St. John Paul II stayed for treatment at different points in his pontificate.

Pope Francis prayed with relic of St. Thérèse of Lisieux before surgery

Pope Francis prayed before a relic of St. Therese of Lisieux at the beginning of his general audience in St. Peter's Square, and shortly before going to the hospital for an abdominal surgery, on June 7, 2023. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City, Jun 7, 2023 / 04:37 am (CNA).

One of Pope Francis’ last gestures before undergoing abdominal surgery on Wednesday was to pray before a relic of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

A relic of the French Carmelite nun, also known as St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, was present on the platform in front of St. Peter’s Basilica during the pope’s weekly general audience June 7.

Before beginning the audience, Francis venerated the relics of St. Thérèse in a moment of silent prayer. He also placed a single, white rose on the table in front of the reliquary.

Pope Francis was taken to Rome’s Gemelli Hospital for abdominal surgery under general anesthesia at the end of the morning audience, shortly after 11 a.m. Rome time, the Vatican said.

Relics of St. Thérèse’s parents, Sts. Louis and Zélie Guérin Martin, were also present at the meeting with the public June 7. The relics of all three saints will visit different churches in Rome through June 16.

Relics of St. Therese of Lisieux and her parents, Sts. Louis and Zelie Guerin Martin, were on the platform in front of St. Peter's Basilica during Pope Francis' general audience June 7, 2023. The relics made a pilgrimage to Rome June 6-16, 2023. Daniel Ibanez/CNA
Relics of St. Therese of Lisieux and her parents, Sts. Louis and Zelie Guerin Martin, were on the platform in front of St. Peter's Basilica during Pope Francis' general audience June 7, 2023. The relics made a pilgrimage to Rome June 6-16, 2023. Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Pope Francis said Wednesday he intends to publish an apostolic letter on St. Thérèse of Lisieux, “patroness of the missions,” to mark the 150th anniversary of her birth.

“She was a Carmelite nun who lived her life according to the way of littleness and weakness: She defined herself as ‘a small grain of sand,’” he said in St. Peter’s Square.

“Having poor health, she died at the age of only 24,” he added. “But though her body was sickly, her heart was vibrant, missionary.”

“Here before us are the relics of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, universal patroness of missions,” he said. “It is good that this happens while we are reflecting on the passion for evangelization, on apostolic zeal. Today, then, let us allow the witness of St. Thérèse to help us. She was born 150 years ago, and I plan to dedicate an apostolic letter to her on this anniversary.”

St. Thérèse of Lisieux was born on Jan. 2, 1873, in Alençon, France. Her mother died when she was 4, leaving her father and older sisters to raise her. She received papal permission to enter the Carmelite Monastery at the young age of 15, where she lived until her death from tuberculosis at the age of 24.

She was proclaimed a doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II in 1997 and is the patron saint of missions.

Pope Francis reflected on the saint’s life as part of a series of lessons on evangelical zeal.

“She is patroness of the missions, but she was never sent on mission,” Francis explained in his catechesis. “She recounts in her ‘diary’ that her desire was that of being a missionary and that she wanted to be one not just for a few years, but for the rest of her life, even until the end of the world.”

St. Thérèse did this, he said, by becoming a spiritual sister to several missionaries, whom she accompanied through her prayers, letters, and sacrifices from within the monastery walls.

“Without being visible, she interceded for the missions, like an engine that, although hidden, gives a vehicle the power to move forward,” the pope said.

“Missionaries, in fact — of whom Thérèse is patroness — are not only those who travel long distances, learn new languages, do good works, and are good at proclamation,” he added. “No, a missionary is anyone who lives as an instrument of God’s love where they are.”

Pope Francis spoke about St. Therese of Lisieux, the patroness of missions, during his general audience June 7, 2023. Relics of St. Therese and her parents, Sts. Louis and Zelie Guerin Martin, were present on the platform beside the pope for the audience. Daniel Ibanez/CNA
Pope Francis spoke about St. Therese of Lisieux, the patroness of missions, during his general audience June 7, 2023. Relics of St. Therese and her parents, Sts. Louis and Zelie Guerin Martin, were present on the platform beside the pope for the audience. Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Pope Francis recounted two episodes from St. Thérèse’s life that help to explain the source of her zeal and missionary strength.

The first happened during Christmas 1886, when Thérèse was almost 14 years old.

St. Thérèse was pampered as the youngest child of the family, he explained. But her father was tired after midnight Mass for Christmas and did not feel like being present when his daughter opened her gifts, so he said he was glad it was the last year she would receive gifts.

“Thérèse, who was very sensitive and easily moved to tears, was hurt, and went up to her room and cried,” the pope said.

“But she quickly suppressed her tears, went downstairs and, full of joy, she was the one who cheered her father,” he said. “What had happened? On that night, when Jesus had made himself weak out of love, her soul became strong: In just a few moments, she had come out of the prison of her selfishness and self-pity; she began to feel that ‘charity entered her heart’ — so she said — ‘with the need to forget herself’ (cf. Manuscript A, 133-134).”

“From then on, she directed her zeal toward others, that they might find God.”

The second event happened after St. Thérèse became a Carmelite. Pope Francis said the nun became aware of a hardened criminal, Enrico Pranzini, who was sentenced to death by guillotine for having murdered three people.

Thérèse had a special zeal for saving sinners, and so “she took him into her heart and did all she could: She prayed in every way for his conversion, so that he, whom, with brotherly compassion she called ‘poor wretched Pranzini,’ might demonstrate a small sign of repentance and make room for God’s mercy,” Francis said.

The day after his execution, she read in the newspaper that before laying his head on the chopping block, Pranzini had, “‘all of a sudden, seized by a sudden inspiration, turned around, grabbed a crucifix that the priest handed to him and kissed three times the sacred wounds’ of Jesus,” he continued.

“Then his soul,” St. Thérèse wrote, “went to receive the merciful sentence of the One who declared that in heaven there will be more joy for a single sinner who repents than for the 99 righteous who have no need of repentance!”

Pope Francis said: “With so many means, methods, and structures available, which sometimes distract from what is essential, the Church needs hearts like Thérèse’s, hearts that draw people to love and bring people closer to God.”

“Let us today ask this saint, whose relics we have here,” he added, “let us ask this saint for the grace to overcome our selfishness and for the passion to intercede that Jesus might be known and loved.”

Pope Francis’ health: Here’s a timeline of his medical issues in recent years

Pope Francis enters the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall in a wheelchair on May 5, 2022. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Vatican City, Jun 7, 2023 / 03:51 am (CNA).

Pope Francis will undergo abdominal surgery under general anesthesia on Wednesday afternoon, the Vatican has said.

The 86-year-old Francis, who has spent most of his 10 years as pope in relatively good health, has dealt with several painful medical conditions over the last few years.

Here is a timeline charting Pope Francis’ recent health concerns:

December 2020

A bout of sciatic pain in the final days of 2020 kept Pope Francis from presiding at the Vatican’s liturgies on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Francis has suffered from sciatica for a number of years; he spoke about it during an in-flight press conference returning from a trip to Brazil in July 2013.

“Sciatica is very painful, very painful! I don’t wish it on anyone,” he said about the condition, which starts in the lower back and can cause pain running down the back of the thigh and leg to the foot.

January 2021

Pope Francis was also forced to cancel three more public appearances at the end of January due to sciatic nerve pain.

July 2021

A problem with his colon landed the pope in the hospital on July 4, 2021.

According to the Vatican, Francis underwent surgery to relieve stricture of the colon caused by diverticulitis. The three-hour surgery included a left hemicolectomy, the removal of one side of the colon.

During his 11-day stay in Rome’s Gemelli Hospital, the pope made “normal clinical progress” in his recovery, the Vatican said.

January 2022

At meetings in January, Pope Francis shared that he was having problems with his knee.

“Excuse me if I stay seated, but I have a pain in my leg today ... It hurts me, it hurts if I’m standing,” the pope told journalists from the Jerusalem-based Christian Media Center on Jan. 17.

He explained further at a general audience the following week, saying the reason he would be unable to greet pilgrims as usual was because of a temporary “problem with my right leg,” an inflamed knee ligament.

February 2022

At the end of February, Pope Francis canceled two public events due to knee pain and doctors’ orders to rest.

In the month that followed, he received help going up and down stairs but continued to walk and stand without assistance.

April 2022

During a trip to Malta on the first weekend of April, Pope Francis used a lift to disembark the papal plane. A special lift was also installed at the Basilica of St. Paul in Rabat, so that Francis could visit and pray in the crypt grotto without taking the stairs.

On the return flight on April 3, he told journalists that “my health is a bit fickle, I have this knee problem that brings out problems with walking.”

At the Vatican’s Good Friday service, the pope did not lay prostrate before the altar, as he has done in the past.

He also did not preside over the Easter Vigil Mass on April 16 or participate in the paschal candle procession but sat in the front of the congregation in a white chair.

On April 22 and April 26, Francis’ agenda was cleared for medical checkups and rest for his knee, the Vatican said. The following day, the pope told pilgrims at his general audience that his knee prevented him from standing for very long.

Pope Francis also started to remain seated in the popemobile while greeting pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square.

On April 30, he said that his doctor had ordered him not to walk.

May 2022

The pope said at the beginning of May that he would undergo a medical procedure on his knee, “an intervention with infiltrations,” by which he may have meant a therapeutic injection, sometimes used to relieve knee pain caused by ligament tears.

Two days later, he used a wheelchair in public for the first time since his July 2021 colon surgery. Throughout May he continued to use the wheelchair and avoid most standing and walking.

Pope Francis’ general audience in St. Peter’s Square, May 18, 2022. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.
Pope Francis’ general audience in St. Peter’s Square, May 18, 2022. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Francis was also undergoing over two hours of rehabilitation for his knee every day, according to an Argentine archbishop close to the pontiff.

The treatment “is giving results,” Archbishop Víctor Manuel Fernández wrote on Twitter on May 14 after he had a private meeting with Francis.

Other than his knee, “he’s better than ever,” Fernández added.

Earlier, Lebanon’s tourism minister had said that a reported papal visit to the country in June was being postponed due to the pope’s health.

The pope did stand for longer periods when celebrating a May 15 Mass in St. Peter’s Square. Afterward, a seminarian from Mexico caught a moment of lightheartedness between pilgrims and the pope as he greeted them from the popemobile.

Someone thanked the pope for being present at the Mass, despite his knee pain, to which Francis responded: “Do you know what I need for my knee? A bit of tequila.”

June 2022

In early June, the Vatican postponed Pope Francis’ planned visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan for health reasons. The trip was planned for July 2–7 but was put off “at the request of his doctors, and in order not to jeopardize the results of the therapy that he is undergoing for his knee,” according to the Vatican.

Less than a week later, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis would not preside over the June 16 Corpus Christi Mass because of his knee problems and “the specific liturgical needs of the celebration.”

Pope Francis commented on his health and spoke about the effects of old age in general terms during his June 15 general audience.

“When you are old, you are no longer in control of your body. One has to learn to choose what to do and what not to do,” the pope said. “The vigor of the body fails and abandons us, even though our heart does not stop yearning. One must then learn to purify desire: Be patient, choose what to ask of the body and of life. When we are old, we cannot do the same things we did when we were young: The body has another pace, and we must listen to the body and accept its limits. We all have them. I too have to use a walking stick now.”

Toward the end of the month, on June 28, Pope Francis walked with a cane to meet bishops from Brazil and told them, “I have been able to walk for three days.”

August 2022

On Aug. 4, the Vatican announced that Massimiliano Strappetti, a Vatican nurse, had been appointed as Pope Francis’ “personal health care assistant.”

November 2022

José María Villalón, the head doctor of the Atlético de Madrid soccer team, was recruited to assist Pope Francis with his knee problems. He said the pope is “a very nice and very stubborn patient in the sense that there are surgical procedures that he does not want” and that “we have to offer him more conservative treatments so that he will agree to them.”

January 2023

In an interview published by the Associated Press on Jan. 25, Pope Francis announced that his diverticulitis had returned. He emphasized that he is in “good health” and that, for his age, he is “normal.”

February 2023

On Feb. 23 the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had a “strong cold.” The pope distributed copies of his speeches at two morning appointments rather than read them aloud as usual.

March 2023

On March 29 the Vatican announced that Pope Francis was expected to remain in a hospital in Rome for “some days” due to a respiratory infection. It had been announced earlier in the day that he was in the hospital for previously scheduled medical checkups.

June 2023

The Vatican confirmed that Pope Francis visited Gemelli Hospital’s center for the elderly for a 40-minute appointment on June 6.

On June 7, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said the pope would undergo an abdominal surgery under general anesthesia in the afternoon.

The operation, a laparotomy and abdominal wall reconstruction with prosthetic material, was necessary due to a hernia causing recurrent, painful, and worsening symptoms, Bruni said.

This story was originally published May 21, 2022, and updated on March 29, 2023, and June 7, 2023.

Pope Francis hospitalized for abdominal surgery

Pope Francis greeted pilgrims in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday, June 7, 2023, a few hours before he will be hospitalized for abdominal surgery under general anesthesia. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Rome Newsroom, Jun 7, 2023 / 03:01 am (CNA).

Pope Francis will undergo abdominal surgery under general anesthesia on Wednesday afternoon, the Vatican has confirmed.

The operation was planned by the pope’s medical team in recent days after it became necessary due to a hernia that was causing recurrent, painful, and worsening symptoms, according to Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni.

Bruni said that Pope Francis will have a laparotomy and abdominal wall reconstruction with prosthetic material in the early afternoon on June 7.

The surgery will attempt to repair an incisional hernia, a type of abdominal wall hernia at the site of a previous surgical incision. In the pope’s case, this could be the result of the scarring caused by the pope’s colon surgery in July 2021.

The pope will be taken to Rome’s Gemelli Hospital immediately after his general audience in St. Peter’s Square and will recover in the hospital for several days post-surgery.

The news of Pope Francis’ surgery comes one day after Italian media reported that he went to Gemelli hospital for a 40-minute visit on June 6.

Pope Francis, 86, was hospitalized for four days in March for a lung infection and canceled all of his scheduled activities on May 26 due to a fever.

Since early 2022 the pope has suffered from knee pain. He started to have difficulty standing and walking and has been using a cane and wheelchair for over a year.

Pope Francis told the Italian bishops in May last year that he did not want to have his knee operated on because he did not want to recover from general anesthesia again following his 2021 colon surgery.

The pope has also dealt this year with a recurrence of diverticulitis, a painful inflammation of bulges in the large intestine, for which he was operated on in July 2021.

Despite his recent medical challenges, the Vatican recently announced the pope’s intention to visit Mongolia Aug. 31–Sept. 1.

Francis is also scheduled to be in Lisbon, Portugal, for World Youth Day Aug. 2–6. The trip also includes a visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima.

Parents in Honduras launch movement to oppose imposition of gender ideology in schools

null / Credit: Shutterstock

ACI Prensa Staff, Jun 6, 2023 / 16:15 pm (CNA).

Last Saturday, hundreds of parents in Honduras officially launched the “For Our Children” movement, a citizen platform that seeks to stop the attempt to impose gender ideology in the public school curriculum.

With the slogan “Don’t mess with my children,” a group of approximately 500 people met June 3 at the Cortés Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the city of San Pedro de Sula to present a manifesto highlighting the “inalienable right” of parents to educate their children according to their “values, principles, and beliefs.”

Martha Lorena de Casco, a member of the Pro-Life Honduras Committee, explained to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, that this movement was formed to respond to the attempt by the administration of President Xiomara Castro to “mandate the implementation [of] a sex education guide with gender ideology starting in kindergarten.”

“This has got people worked up, because many people understand what gender is. Consequently, a movement was created that opposes the attempt of the presidency to apply a law that was designed without consulting parents and that was debated only among NGOs [nongovernmental organizations], trans groups, feminist groups. That is an affront,” the pro-life leader explained.

On March 8, the Honduran Congress passed the “Comprehensive Education Law for the Prevention of Teen Pregnancy” with the intention of creating “sex education curricula appropriate to the age of the students to prevent teen pregnancies.”

The manifesto published by For Our Children opposes this law because it “unilaterally incorporates ideologies promoted by international organizations that are not consistent with Honduran values or what we parents want for our children.”

The parents specified that any change in the curriculum must have their agreement because their “participation in educational institutions — public, private, Christian, and non-Christian — is a right and a prerogative.”

“We expressly state our right to participate directly and without mediators in any content review process, pedagogical forms, and key educational issues, etc., and in any attempt by this or future governments to modify the curriculum without our consent or to use its implementation to indoctrinate our children,” For Our Children stressed.

The parents also repudiated the intention to include comprehensive sex education.

This involves “the introduction of homosexuality, transgenderism, masturbation, sexual experimentation, gender fluid, and other identities to minors, even more so, to children in early childhood, which we consider perversion and abuse.”

The manifesto states it is “in favor of sex education with values based on biology and respect for the integrity of children.”

“No current educational model promoted by governments and international organizations should be implemented without the express consent of parents at any age,” the movement asserts.

Lastly, Honduran parents called on President Castro to veto the Comprehensive Sexual Education Law for the Prevention of Teen Pregnancy. They also urged her to publicly promise “that she will not continue the social experiment of gender ideology in our educational system.”

In addition, the manifesto requires the president to “promote and publicize a bill to strengthen the family and the preferential right of parents to the education of their children.”

“We will be vigilant, alert, and committed in every school in the country. Know [that] those that are behind this plan to ideologize our children … are not going to achieve it and that they will be met with a united and determined people,” the manifesto concludes.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Thousands of United Methodist churches break away over LGBTQ+ disagreements

A pro-LGBTQ message on a Methodist church in Nashville, Tennessee. / Glendale United Methodist Church|Flickr

Washington D.C., Jun 6, 2023 / 15:45 pm (CNA).

As the United Methodist Church (UMC) is rocked by disagreement over LGBTQ+ issues, more than 4,000 congregations have officially split from the denomination this year. 

More congregations joined the growing schism this weekend with 60 leaving in Michigan on Saturday and 250 in Kentucky splitting with the UMC on Sunday. 

Jay Therrell, president of the Wesleyan Covenant Association and a leader in the “disaffiliation” movement, told CNA that “the authority of Scripture and the lordship of Christ” has “deteriorated for many, many years in the United Methodist Church.” 

Today, Therrell said, that problem is “playing out in the issue of human sexuality.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, 4,876 Methodist churches this year have officially completed the process to break away from the UMC, Therrell said.

According to Therrell, many of those churches have gone on to join the more theologically conservative Global Methodist Church, which was founded in 2022 with the help of the Wesleyan Covenant Association and now numbers approximately 2,500 congregations. 

“We absolutely believe that the United Methodist Church is drifting day by day ever more progressive,” Therrell said. “We have bishops all across the globe who are completely violating the Book of Discipline [the primary Methodist book of teachings, similar to the Catholic catechism]. They are allowing all sorts of things to happen that violate various paragraphs, much of it to do with human sexuality.” 

The conflict erupted in full force in 2019 after a special session of the General Conference of the entire UMC debated whether to adopt new rules promoting homosexuality in the church. The propositions were ultimately defeated in a 53% to 46% vote approving a “Traditional Plan” reaffirming the UMC’s stance on traditional marriage and sexuality.

Since 2019, however, the UMC has steered the church toward the left on key social issues such as LGBTQ+ ideology.

Though denying the ordination of homosexual individuals, the UMC’s official website states that “everyone is welcome to worship and actively participate in the life of our churches” and that “laypersons may become members and live out their faith through their local church without respect to sexual orientation or practice.”

The UMC’s website further admits that the denomination’s teaching on homosexuality may be changed in the future. “When the next General Conference convenes (April–May 3, 2024) it will address multiple legislative proposals to alter existing church policies on human sexuality and to divide or restructure the denomination as a result of differences on these and other issues,” the UMC’s website states.

In the United States, the UMC is divided into five “jurisdictions.” Each of these jurisdictions passed similar measures in 2022 stating that “LGBTQIA+ people will be protected, affirmed, and empowered” in the church, according to the AP.

Of the 46 active UMC bishops, two are openly homosexual, despite official UMC policy denying the ordination of LGBTQ+ persons.

Meanwhile, the influence of LGBTQ+ supportive groups has been increasing within the UMC. 

The Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) is a group that, according to its website, is “committed to intersectional justice across and beyond the United Methodist connection” and is “working for the full participation of all LGBTQ+ people throughout the life and leadership of the Church.”

According to a November 2022 RMN statement, conferences of the UMC’s five jurisdictions resulted in “a historic slate of episcopal elections for the Reconciling movement” in which 13 new LGBTQ+ supportive bishops were elected.

“Episcopal elections are important for LGBTQ+ justice because our Church’s moral direction is deeply influenced by the values of the elected bishops and because bishops hold immense power to affect the livelihoods of LGBTQ+ clergy and congregations seeking justice and inclusion,” RMN said. “We celebrate these newly elected justice-seeking bishops who represent more of the whole of humanity and whose wisdom is invaluable in the ongoing co-creation of our Church.”

Besides electing openly homosexual bishops, some members of the UMC clergy have called for official apologies to be made for even challenging their election. 

At the 2022 South Central Jurisdiction Conference, RMN reported that Rev. Katie McKay Simpson, a pastor from Louisiana, “called the jurisdiction to collective confession and apology for challenging the historic election of Bishop Karen Oliveto, the Church’s first out gay bishop.”

To Therrell, the jurisdictions’ adoption of pro-LGBTQ+ resolutions “telegraph where the future of the UMC is.” 

“We think it is highly likely at the General Conference in 2024 that the definition of marriage will change, that the ordination standards will change, and that most of the traditional provisions we’ve passed in recent years will be repealed,” Therrell said. 

As of now, nearly one-quarter of UMC congregations have officially broken away within the last five years.

The departures have only been increasing exponentially. According to UM News, the official news-gathering agency of the UMC, 4,645 churches officially split from the UMC so far this year. That is more than double the number of churches that left in the previous year (2,003) and almost 10 times the number in 2021 (486). 

NFL champ Harrison Butker makes a statement with pro-life necktie at White House visit

President Joe Biden welcomes the Kansas City Chiefs to the White House in Washington, D.C., June 5, 2023. Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker (back row, center) wore a tie with a pro-life message on it. / Credit: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Boston, Mass., Jun 6, 2023 / 15:15 pm (CNA).

During the Kansas City Chiefs’ visit to the White House on Monday in celebration of their Super Bowl victory in February, the team’s kicker, Harrison Butker, made a statement in support of the unborn by wearing a custom-made necktie with a pro-life message.

Butker, a faithful Catholic, wore a tie that says “Vulnerari Praesidio,” a Latin phrase he says means “protect the most vulnerable.”

“I want to give the most vulnerable, the unborn, a voice at a place where every effort has been made to allow and normalize the tragic termination of their lives,” Butker said in a June 6 statement.

Butker is referring to the Biden administration’s aggressive pro-abortion stance, a position that has put Biden at odds with the U.S. bishops and members of his own faith. 

“As a father who has experienced three miscarriages, my wife and I understand the hardships that come with losing a child. Every life is precious and should be valued whether outside or inside the womb,” he said.

The gray tie was created in conjunction with the pro-life advocacy group Live Action. 

According to the organization, accompanying the tie on Butker’s suit is a gold pin of two tiny feet — the exact-size feet a 10-week-old baby would have.

Biden gave a speech at the event praising the Super Bowl champions not only for their football skills but also for using their platforms for good. 

“As much as these guys know about football, they know about life and how to use their platform to make a difference,” the president said in a speech celebrating the team’s victory.

In a statement to CNA on Tuesday, Live Action president Lila Rose said that “Live Action was proud to partner with NFL superstar and pro-life advocate Harrison Butker to create a necktie in honor of the preborn to wear while meeting President Biden at the White House.”

“President Biden is a professing Catholic who, as the most powerful man in the world, is responsible for leading the most pro-abortion administration in our history that has overseen a horrific death toll of 2,548 children every day lost to abortion,” she said.

“I call on President Biden to reject the extremism of the abortion lobby and to protect the vulnerable children of his nation,” Rose added.

Hundreds of thousands of unborn children are killed in the womb every year through abortion. 

Butker kicked the Super Bowl-winning field goal for the Chiefs during his team’s stunning Feb. 12 Super Bowl victory against the Philadelphia Eagles.

In addition to his game-clinching kick, he captured media attention for his scapular, which made a timely appearance as it slipped out of his jersey while more than 100 million fans across the globe watched him line up for a 27-yard field goal attempt with 11 seconds left on the clock in a tie game.

“I think that was our Blessed Mother asking for the spotlight to be shown on her and reminding me that all the glory goes to God and to her,” Butker told CNA in March.