Amid personal health struggles, Pope Francis to address climate change conference in Dubai

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Pope Francis

28th November 2023 – (Vatican City) Despite complications from lung inflammation, Pope Francis has confirmed his upcoming visit to Dubai to speak at the COP28 Climate Change Conference. The announcement comes as the pontiff grapples with mild flu symptoms, which led him to forego his usual Sunday appearance in St Peter’s Square. Instead, Francis conducted the traditional noon blessing from the chapel of his Vatican hotel residence, televised to a global audience.

The 86-year-old Pontiff announced, “Brothers and sisters, happy Sunday. Today, I cannot appear at the window due to a problem of lung inflammation.” In lieu of speaking, a priest at his side read out the day’s reflections on his behalf.

An essential part of Francis’s comments centred on his imminent travel to the United Arab Emirates for the climate change assembly, COP28. Despite his health concerns, he assured his speech would be delivered as planned to the conference attendees this Saturday.

The Pope, whose birthday is due next month, highlighted the importance of addressing climate change, terming it as a threat rivalling war. He stated, “Our world, besides war, is threatened by another great peril, that of climate change, which puts at risk life on Earth, especially for future generations.”

The pontiff expressed gratitude for those who would accompany his journey with prayers and commitments to protect the ‘common house,’ his term for Earth.

Footage from the televised appearance showed Francis with a bandage on his right hand and what seemed to be a cannula, indicative of possible treatment. The Vatican has yet to respond to queries regarding the specifics of his therapy.

There appears to be a discrepancy between the Pope’s lung inflammation and a previous Vatican statement declaring that a CT scan at a Rome hospital ruled out any pulmonary complications. The Pope was hospitalised earlier this year for what he later disclosed as pneumonia, while the Vatican defined it as a case of bronchitis requiring intravenous antibiotic treatment.

The weather in Rome has been unusually cold and windy this late autumn weekend, a factor that could have impacted the Pope’s health.

The Pontiff’s voice, noticeably subdued and at times breathless during his introductory remarks, ended on a soft note as he requested his followers, “Don’t forget to pray for me.” Despite the evident health challenges, Pope Francis remains steadfast in his commitment to addressing the pressing issues of our times, a testament to his enduring resolve.