Pope arrives in wheelchair for Christmas mass, unable to stand to deliver sermon

Pope Francis has sparked fears for his health after arriving for Christmas mass in a wheelchair and being unable to stand to deliver his sermon.

The sombre scene in St. Peter’s Basilica comes just days after it emerged that Francis has written a resignation letter in case health issues leave him unable to perform his duties.

The Pope explained last week: “I signed it and said: ‘If I should become impaired for medical reasons or whatever, here is my resignation. Here you have it.'”

Francis, who turned 86 just days ago, had surgery last year to repair a bowel narrowing. He has also been battling extreme knee pain since tearing a ligament, which has left him unable to stand for long periods. Last month he told reporters he was “in a lot of pain” and was having regular physical therapy to try and alleviate the recurring issues with his leg.

Despite being forced to sit, the Pope used his Christmas address to launch a thinly-veiled attack on Russian President Vladimir Putin. Speaking at the Vatican service, Francis lambasted those whose “greed and hunger” for power was such that some “wanted to consume even their neighbours”.

The Pontiff is marking his 10th Christmas as leader of the world’s Catholics.

As many as 4,000 people attended the service, the first time it has been filled to capacity since 2019, because of years of Covid restrictions. And the Pope didn’t hold back in his criticism of the Russian regime. He said: “Men and women in our world, in their hunger for wealth and power, consume even their neighbours, their brothers and sisters.

“How many wars have we seen! And in how many places, even today, are human dignity and freedom treated with contempt!” Since Russia invaded its neighbour in February, Francis has spoken out against the war at nearly every public event, at least twice a week, denouncing what he has called atrocities and unprovoked aggression.

He did not specifically mention Ukraine, but he added: “As always, the principal victims of this human greed are the weak and the vulnerable,” he said, denouncing “a world ravenous for money, power and pleasure…”

He added: “I think above all of the children devoured by war, poverty and injustice,” also mentioning “unborn, poor and forgotten children”.

Drawing a parallel between the infant Jesus born in a manger and the poverty of today, the Pope said: “In the manger of rejection and discomfort, God makes himself present. He comes there because there we see the problem of our humanity: the indifference produced by the greedy rush to possess and consume.”

Because of the Pope’s mobility issues, much of the service was delegated to a cardinal.


GB News
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