The Pope cancelled a meeting and did not read two speeches due to a bad cold. He had celebrated Mass without any issues the previous day.
Pope Francis was forced to cancel an audience scheduled for this morning, February 23, 2023, due to a “bad cold,” the Holy See Press Office announced in the daily bulletin. He was able to receive two groups, before canceling the third meeting, but did not read his speeches aloud to the participants as he usually does. He apologized and explained in a hoarse voice that it was due to his health.
The first audience this morning took place at around 9 a.m. and was with a group of Orthodox representatives. It was introduced by Cardinal Kurt Koch, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Christian Unity.
“Good morning,” the Pope said, greeting the participants with a hoarse voice. “I should read all of this, the translation of which you have in your hands, but I can’t read it because I am sick. I have a cold that prevents me from speaking,” he explained, before the audio, which was broadcast in the Holy See Press Office, was interrupted.
“Due to a strong cold, the Holy Father opted to distribute the prepared speech,” the Holy See Press Office confirmed in a brief note afterward.
Final audience canceled
The morning continued with the Pontiff deciding not to read his speech for a second time, during an audience with a group of scientists. He then had private meetings with two priests, Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, and finally David M. Beasley, executive director of the United Nations’ World Food Programme.
The Pope decided not to attend the last audience on his agenda, with a group of Italians from the YMCA Christian Youth Federation. It was originally scheduled to be at around noon. The Holy See confirmed that the cancellation was due to his cold.
The day before, February 22, the Pope delivered a homily without difficulty during the Ash Wednesday Mass, inaugurating the Lenten season, at Basilica Santa Sabina in Rome.
This is not the first time the 86-year-old Pontiff has adjusted his schedule due to a cold. At the beginning of 2020, he was unable to honor a number of events, such as a spiritual retreat of the Roman Curia at the beginning of Lent, due to a “cold.” Indisposed in May 2014, he had also postponed certain appointments on his calendar, including a visit to the Roman Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love planned for May 18.