Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Children accompany Pope Francis as he leads the Angelus prayer from a balcony of the Gemelli hospital, as he recovers following scheduled surgery on his colon, in Rome, Italy, July 11, 2021.

VATICAN MEDIA/Reuters

Pope Francis, seeming in good overall condition, appeared in public on Sunday for the first time since undergoing intestinal surgery a week ago and made a plea for free universal health care.

The 84-year-old Pope, who had part of his colon removed in the surgery, stepped out on the balcony of his suite on the 10th floor of Rome’s Gemelli hospital to lead his weekly prayer before hundreds of cheering people below.

He stood for about 10 minutes, reading from a prepared text but also adding many impromptu remarks.

Story continues below advertisement

He appeared to be slightly short of breath at times and his voice was occasionally raspy. He had part of one of his lungs removed when he was a young man in his native Argentina.

Hundreds of people gathered in the open space below shouted “Viva il Papa!” (Long live the Pope) and waved national flags. Doctors and patients stood on other balconies to watch.

“It was a great joy to see the Pope again … his voice was a little shaky but the Pope is always the pope and we wanted to be here,” said an Italian priest who identified himself as Father Massimiliano.

In the mostly improvised part of his talk, Francis said good health care should be accessible to all and free.

“In these days that I have been in hospital, I saw once more how important it is to have a good health care system that is accessible to all, as it exists in Italy and in other countries,” he said.

“A health service that is free and guarantees good service accessible to all. … This precious good should not be lost. It must be maintained and everyone should be committed to this. Because everyone needs it,” he said.

Health care is a major political issue in the United States, one of the few industrialized countries that does not have universal cover for its citizens.

Story continues below advertisement

According to the World Health Organization, universal health coverage means all have access to health services they need without financial hardship.

CHILDREN WITH THE POPE

Several children who are patients in the hospital appeared with the pope on the balcony. “Why children have to suffer is [a question] that touches the heart,” he said.

It was the first time since his election as pope in 2013 that Francis has not read the Sunday prayer and message from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, expect for when he was travelling.

Francis criticized managers of church-run hospitals whose first thought, he said, is to close when economic difficulty hits.

“Your vocation as a church is not to have money but to be of service, and service is always free,” he said in part of his unprepared remarks.

Before closing with his traditional final remark of “Have a good lunch and goodbye until we see each other again,” Francis appealed for an end to “the spiral of violence” in Haiti, where President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated on Wednesday.

Story continues below advertisement

The Vatican did not issue a daily medical bulletin on Sunday. On Saturday, it said the Pope was continuing a normal recovery, gradually resuming work, walking and eating with aides, and that his blood tests were satisfactory.

Doctors had originally foreseen a seven-day stay in hospital for the Pope, but there was no indication when he would be discharged.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies