Pope apologizes for canceling trip to Africa

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Pope Francis on Sunday apologized to the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan for canceling a visit due to walking problems and said he hoped his condition would improve.

The Vatican announced on Thursday that the July 2-7 trip had been postponed indefinitely due to the 85-year-old pontiff’s knee condition, which required him to use a wheelchair for more than a month.

“I feel great regret that I had to postpone this trip, which I still very much want to do,” he said during his Sunday speech to thousands in St. Peter’s Square.

“I ask you to forgive me for this. Let’s pray together that with God’s help and with medical treatment, I can come to you as soon as possible. We are hopeful.”

POPE FRANCIS POSTPONES APOSTOLIC VISIT TO AFRICA ON DOCTOR’S ADVICE

Pope Francis arrives in a wheelchair to attend an audience with nuns and religious superiors in the Vatican's Paul VI hall on May 5, 2022.
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Pope Francis arrives in a wheelchair to attend an audience with nuns and religious superiors in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall on May 5, 2022.
(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, File)

The Vatican said on Thursday that the trip had been postponed “so as not to compromise the results of the therapy he is undergoing for his knee.”

On Sunday, the pope referred to his illness, believed to be a torn ligament, as “problems with my leg.” Francis also suffers from sciatica, which caused him to limp before the knee problem even flared up.

Vatican sources said the pope was receiving several injections a week for the illness, as well as physical therapy, and had hoped he could regain at least partial ability to walk before the trip began.

Pope Francis greets and blesses children assisted by the Vatican's Santa Marta Pediatric Dispensary at Paul VI Hall on December 19, 2021.

Pope Francis greets and blesses children assisted by the Vatican’s Santa Marta Pediatric Dispensary at Paul VI Hall on December 19, 2021.
(Tefano Costantino/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

They said the pope was against surgery because of problems with general anesthesia following an operation to remove part of his intestine a year ago.

POPE FRANCIS TELLS CROWD HE NEEDS ‘A LITTLE TEQUILA’ TO HELP HIS KNEE PAIN, VIDEO SHOWS

The pope is still scheduled to visit Canada July 24-30.

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He also urged his listeners not to get used to the war in Ukraine.

“Let the passage of time not lessen our pain and concern for these martyred people,” he said.

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