Pope Francis addressed a large gathering of people and announced as he continued to cough and sneeze that he would not be able to attend the annual retreat organized on the event of Lenten. The Pope said that he was battling cold and made an announcement of absence in the last minute.
This is the first time Pope's health condition has raised concerns after his being appointed as the Pope in 2013. The 83-year-old Pope reportedly is down with cold and fever since Wednesday. In fact the gathering during the Lenten season is considered to be dear to the Pope and even on Saturday night the Vatican officers had announced that the Pope will attend the retreat scheduled on Sunday. But the same was cancelled in the last minute. It is first time after 1950 that a Pope has not attended a Lenten retreat.
Coronavirus cases on rise in Italy
Meanwhile, thousands of people who had gathered outside St Perer's Square for the retreat, expressed concern about Pope's health as Coronavirus is spreading rapidly in Italy. However, Pope told the gathering that he will follow the medication and continue to do spiritual prayers from home. Concern over Pope's health is mounting as one of his lungs was removed long ago following a surgery in his early 20s at Buenos Aires.
Meanwhile, Italy recorded 1,694 confirmed cases of Coronavirus as on March 2. A total of 34 deaths have been reported due to the virus attack. There are 1,577 patients being treated for COVID-19 at present. The records stated that 83 people had recovered from the virus. But health condition of 140 people is still critical.
Pope dismisses Indian priest
Meanwhile, Pope also took a decision to dismiss a priest from Kerala, India who has been convicted of rape. Robin Vadakkumchery, priest of St Sebastian Church at Neendunoki in Kerala state was convicted for raping and impregnating a minor girl. He is also sentenced to a jail term of 20 years by local courts.