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Pope Francis suggests he may be halting travel abroad as his health declines

 September 5, 2023

Pope Francis, now age 86, has indicated that his deteriorating health might curb his international travels.

Following a decade in the papacy, Pope Francis recently suggested physical challenges may begin to impede his overseas journeys. The Pope has admitted that traveling no longer as effortless as it was when he started his pontificate, as reported by the Daily Mail.

Details from recent Mongolia trip

On his recent return from Mongolia, his 43rd trip as the pontiff, reporters questioned Pope Francis on his future travel intentions. Responding to the queries, he said:

I'll tell you the truth, for me taking a trip now, it's not as easy as in the beginning; there are limitations in walking.

His Mongolia visit happened shortly after a three-hour surgery in Rome, during which he underwent a procedure to remove intestinal scar tissue and mend a hernia in his abdominal wall.

The medical intervention became necessary due to what was described as "a recurrent, painful and worsening" intestinal constriction.

This wasn't the Pope's first major surgery, as wo years earlier, he had 13 inches of his colon removed because of inflammation.

China relations discussed during the Mongolia visit

Despite health challenges, Pope Francis has remained active in diplomacy.

During the Mongolia trip, he commented on the Vatican's relationship with China.

He expressed a positive outlook but emphasized the need for mutual understanding. He stated:

Relations with China are very respectful, very. I have a great admiration for the Chinese people.

The Pope further expressed:

I think we need to go further on the religious side to understand each other better.

He addressed the Chinese directly, advising them to be "good Christians and good citizens." His main objective is to strengthen the Catholic Church's presence in China.

Francis's health has always been a concern

Even though Pope Francis' dedication to his work remains unwavering, health constraints have become more evident.

In the wake of his hernia operation, and owing to knee pain, he frequently uses a wheelchair or cane.

Observers have noted an unsteady walk and visible exhaustion during the aforementioned Mongolia trip.

Health adversities are nothing new for the Pope.

In his early twenties, he faced a severe health scare.

At 21, he was diagnosed with pleurisy, a serious condition affecting the lung tissues.

According to Austen Ivereigh, the Pope's biographer, this affliction almost took his life, leading to the removal of pulmonary cysts and a portion of his upper right lung.

Though he recovered from those challenges, his reduced lung capacity makes him more susceptible to chronic respiratory diseases.

Recent health events raised further concerns

Earlier this year, the pontiff faced another health scare: pneumonia.

Difficulty in breathing during a Vatican gathering led to his hospitalization.

Fortunately, he made a timely recovery. He said:

If we'd waited a few more hours, it would've been much more serious. But I was out (of hospital) in four days.

Another challenge facing the Pope is his persistent sciatica nerve pain, which is known to cause immense discomfort.


  • Pope Francis' health challenges may begin to reduce his overseas travel.
  • His trip to Mongolia revealed concerns, especially in the wake of recent surgery in Rome.
  • Despite health issues, the Pope remains actively involved in diplomacy, including work in strengthening ties with China.
  • Health adversities, present since his twenties, continue to plague him.
  • Observers and followers worldwide express concern and admiration for his dedication amidst challenges.