Pope Francis keeps busy schedule despite feeling ‘not well’

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Pope Francis speaks with the Conference of European Rabbis at the Vatican on Nov. 6, 2023.

Vatican City: (CAN) Pope Francis is continuing to keep a full schedule even as the Holy Father said he was not feeling well during a meeting Monday morning with Jewish rabbis from Europe.

According to the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, the pope decided not to read his prepared remarks at the Nov. 6 audience but to hand over printed copies instead.

“Thank you for this visit that I appreciate very much,” the pope said during the meeting, “but it happens that I am not well in health and that is why I prefer not to read the speech but give it to you.”

Holy See Press Office director Matteo Bruni told Il Corriere della Sera that the pope “has a bit of a cold and a long day of audiences. He wanted to greet the European rabbis individually and that is why he handed over the address. Otherwise, the pope’s activities are continuing regularly.”

The pope began a full day of meetings Nov. 6 with an audience with Archbishop Leo Boccardi, the newly retired apostolic nuncio to Japan, followed by audiences with Brazil’s and Switzerland’s new ambassadors to the Holy See, Everton Vieira Vargas and Manuela Leimgruber.

In addition to the Conference of European Rabbis, he also met delegations from the Laudato Si’ Movement and an Italian charitable association, “Piccola Casa della Misericordia,” based in Gela, Sicily.

Francis’ morning also included a private audience with the Spanish politician Pere Aragonès, president of the government of Catalonia.

In the afternoon, Pope Francis is scheduled to meet with 7,000 children from over 80 countries. The pope announced the event after praying the midday Angelus on Oct. 1.

“It is an event to show the dream we all have: To go back to having the pure sentiments of children because the kingdom of heaven belongs to them,” he said.

The encounter, sponsored by the Dicastery for Culture and Education, is dedicated to the theme “Let us learn from boys and girls.”

In the pope’s prepared remarks to the rabbis, he said his “first thought and prayer goes, above all else, to everything that has happened in the last few weeks.”

“Yet again violence and war have erupted in that Land blessed by the Most High, which seems continually assailed by the vileness of hatred and the deadly clash of weapons,” the speech continued. “The spread of anti-Semitic demonstrations, which I strongly condemn, is also of great concern.”

“In this time in which we are witnessing violence and destruction,” Francis’ prepared remarks said, “we believers are called to build fraternity and open paths of reconciliation for all and before all, in the name of the Almighty who, as another prophet says, has ‘plans for welfare and not for evil’ (Jer 29:11). Not weapons, not terrorism, not war, but compassion, justice, and dialogue are the fitting means for building peace.”

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