Pope Francis’ general audience in St. Peter’s Square, April 27, 2022. / Vatican Media.
Vatican City, Apr 27, 2022 / 11:50 am (CNA).
Pope Francis told pilgrims at his Wednesday general audience that he was unable to stand to greet them because his knee is “still not healing.”
Speaking at the end of the audience on April 27, the 85-year-old pope acknowledged that the health condition continued to restrict his mobility.
“I apologize if I’m going to greet you while sitting, because this knee is still not healing and I can’t stand that long,” he explained. “Please excuse me for this.”
Pope Francis arrived for the general audience seated in a white popemobile, which passed through pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
The vehicle dropped him off beside a raised platform in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, where he walked slowly and with assistance to his white chair to deliver his catechesis on old age.
The pope remained seated throughout the audience but stood to give a final blessing. He then sat back down as a line of bishops processed up the steps to greet him, followed by other pilgrims.
Pope Francis was forced to cancel his engagements the day before due to his knee problem.
The condition, which he has suffered from for years, flared up at the start of 2022.
At the general audience on Jan. 26, he said that the reason he was unable to greet pilgrims as usual was because of a temporary “problem with my right leg,” an inflamed knee ligament.
With a smile, he added: “They say that this only happens to elderly people and I don’t know why it happened to me…”
Persistent knee pain has curtailed his activities in recent weeks, prompting him to take smaller roles in some liturgies and remain seated more often.
On Good Friday, Pope Francis did not follow the custom of prostrating himself before the cross, standing in silence instead.
The pope also opted to not celebrate the Easter Vigil Mass, though he attended and delivered the homily.
On Easter Sunday, he had to sit down partway through his delivery of the Urbi et Orbi message and blessing.
Pope Francis has also received more assistance walking and going up and down stairs in recent weeks.
In July 2021, he spent 11 days in a Rome hospital recuperating from colon surgery.