Pope Francis has canceled a trip to Africa due to a persistent knee issue, sparking new concerns about the 85-year-old pontiff’s health.
The planned visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan in early July had been canceled “at the request of his doctors in order not to jeopardize the results of the therapy that he is undergoing for his knee” and would be rescheduled at a later date, according to Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni.
Francis has canceled several engagements since having a minor operation to treat knee pain. He first appeared in public in a wheelchair in early May.
The Vatican has not said what the issue is, although Francis told Corriere Della Sera last month that a strained ligament required a modest “intervention with infiltration.”
Francis had surgery on his intestines last summer. He has been known to suffer from sciatica, although he has never had to cancel an official trip due to illness. Last year, he told an Argentinian journalist, Nelson Castro, that he had never had to “cancel or curtail anything,” and that he had never experienced weariness or shortness of breath.