Vatican cancels Pope Francis’ trip to climate conference in Dubai, citing ongoing illness

Pope Francis pictured on Nov. 27, 2023. The pope felt well enough to keep his scheduled appointment with the president of Paraguay on Monday morning as he recovers from the flu. / Credit: Vatican Media

CNA Staff, Nov 28, 2023 / 14:53 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis will not attend the United Nations COP28 climate conference in Dubai this week due to his continuing struggles with lung inflammation stemming from influenza, the Vatican said on Tuesday.

The Holy See Press Office announced on Tuesday that “although the general clinical picture of the Holy Father in relation to the state of influenza and inflammation of the respiratory tract has improved,” the Holy Father’s doctors “have asked the pope not to make the trip planned for the next few days to Dubai on the occasion of the 28th Conference of the Parties for United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.”

“Pope Francis accepted the doctors’ request with great regret and the trip was therefore canceled,” the press office said. 

The Vatican indicated the Holy Father will still attempt to participate in the conference in some fashion.

“As the pope and the Holy See remain willing to be part of the discussions taking place in the coming days, the ways in which this can be implemented will be defined as soon as possible,” the press release said. 

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni confirmed on Tuesday that the Holy Father will take part in his customary Wednesday general audience on Nov. 29.  

The Vatican had confirmed on Monday that the Holy Father’s condition was “clearly improving,” with the pontiff in “good and stable” condition and without a fever. 

The pope last week visited the Gemelli Isola Hospital in Rome while suffering from a “mild” flu. During that visit, Francis underwent a CT scan to rule out the risk of “pulmonary complications,” the Holy See said on Saturday.

The scan had come back negative, though the Vatican on Monday had said it revealed “lung inflammation causing some breathing difficulties.”

The pope had been scheduled to travel to Dubai this weekend to deliver a speech at the COP28 climate conference. The Holy Father would have visited the United Arab Emirates Dec. 1–3 for the conference, marking the first such time a pontiff had attended the event.

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