Pope Francis to stay in hospital a few more days, Vatican says

Pope Francis speaks with a health worker at the Gemelli hospital, as he recovers following scheduled surgery on his colon, in Rome, Italy, July 11, 2021. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) -Pope Francis has completed his post-surgery treatment but will remain in hospital a few more days to fine-tune his course of medication and rehabilitation, the Vatican said on Monday.

When the pope entered hospital on July 4 to have part of his colon removed, the Vatican said he would stay about seven days, barring complications.

"His Holiness Pope Francis spent a tranquil day (Sunday) and completed his post-operative course," spokesman Matteo Bruni said in his daily statement on the pope's condition.

"In order to optimise his medical and rehabilitative therapy, the Holy Father will remain hospitalised for a few more days," he said.

Bruni said that before the pope made his public address on Sunday from the balcony of the Gemelli hospital, he visited children in the nearby cancer ward, some of whom accompanied him to the balcony and stood with him.

After the address, the pope visited other patients and medical staff, Bruni said.

The pope stood for about 10 minutes while delivering the address on Sunday and appeared in overall good condition, although his voice was raspy. The Vatican later released pictures of Francis being taken through the hospital in a wheelchair to visit the other patients and doctors.

In the afternoon, Francis said Mass in the small chapel of a suite that is reserved for popes on the 10th floor of the Catholic hospital.

It was a good weekend for the pope as a life-long soccer fan, given that both the national squads of his native Argentina and his adoptive home country of Italy were victorious.

Argentina defeated Brazil to win the Copa America on Saturday and Italy were crowned European champions after a shootout victory over England on Sunday.

The Vatican said the pope "shared the joy" of both victories "with persons who are close to him" but did not say if he watched either of the matches.

Either way, the pope will have heard the street festivities that went on through the night in all of Rome, including the northern neighbourhood where the Gemelli is located.

The Vatican statement said the pope "underscored the significance of sports and its values and that sporting capacity of knowing how to accept any result, even defeat."

Francis is a lifelong fan of the San Lorenzo soccer team in his native Buenos Aires.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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