Pope Francis leaves hospital as his surgeon says the 86-year-old is ‘in better shape than before’

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Pope Francis has left hospital in Rome nine days after undergoing surgery for a hernia.

The pontiff smiled and waved to reporters and well-wishers as he was pushed in a wheelchair to a waiting Vatican car.

Dr Sergio Alfieri, the chief surgeon who carried out the three-hour operation on 7 June, told the waiting media that Francis would be a “strong pope” as the 86-year-old was driven away.

He said: “The Pope is well. He is in better shape than before.”

Pope Francis greets people after having been discharged from Gemelli Hospital in Rome, Italy
The pontiff was greeted by reporters and well-wishers

Dr Alfieri also said the Pope was well enough to travel.

Francis has trips planned for Portugal at the start of August and Mongolia at the end of that month.

His engagements have been cancelled until 18 June.

He traditionally takes all of July off, with the Sunday blessings being his only public appearances, so he will have next month to rest before the August trips.

Francis was admitted to hospital last week for his second major abdominal operation in two years.

During the surgery, doctors removed intestinal scar tissue and repaired hernia in his abdominal wall.

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Originally called Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Francis was archbishop of the Argentine capital Buenos Aires from 1998 until he was elected pope in 2013.

Since he assumed the papacy, he has been forced to cancel some events, sometimes at the last minute, because of illness.

He spent three days in hospital with a respiratory infection in March – joking “I’m still alive!” when he was discharged – and last month had to skip audiences because of a fever.

He was first hospitalised in 2021 for an operation to remove part of his colon.

Francis is also missing part of one lung, which was removed when he was a young man in Argentina, and often uses a cane to walk due to knee pain.

Last year he hinted he may resign if his health continued to deteriorate.

That suggestion came after he was pictured using a wheelchair for the first time in public due to mobility issues.

The late Benedict XVI became the first pope to resign for more than 600 years in 2013 instead of ruling for life.

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