Pope appears unable to climb a few steps as respiratory and mobility problems take their toll

March 06, 2024

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis again asked an aide to read his remarks and was unable to get back onto his popemobile Wednesday, as lingering respiratory and mobility problems continued to take their toll on the 87-year-old pontiff. Francis presided over his weekly general audience, held outside for the first time this year in a chilly St. Peter’s Square. But he had an aide read his catechism lesson, as he has done for the past several days. On Wednesday, however, Francis appeared unable to climb up the few steps to board his popemobile at the end of his audience, even while grasping onto the handrails. The Argentine pope had part of one lung removed as a young man because of a respiratory infection, and he often speaks in a whisper even when not sick.