Citing Knee Problems, Pope Francis Postpones Trip to Africa

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ROME — The Vatican announced Friday that Pope Francis would postpone a trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, scheduled for next month, because of continuing problems with his knee.

The postponement came “at the request of his doctors, and in order not to jeopardize the results of the therapy that he is undergoing for his knee,” a Vatican spokesman, Matteo Bruni, said in a statement.

He said the pope expressed “regret” that the trip had to be deferred and that it would be rescheduled “to a later date to be determined.”

Francis, 85, began using a wheelchair about a month ago because of problems with his right knee, which has made it painful for him to walk or stand for long periods of time. Last month, he postponed a trip to Lebanon, originally scheduled for mid-June.

The Vatican has never specified what is wrong with the pope’s knee. In an interview published in the Milan newspaper Corriere della Sera in early May, Francis said he had a torn ligament and had been prescribed “a series of knee injections.”

Francis had been scheduled to travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan from July 2 to 7, with a schedule that included Masses and prayer meetings, as well as meetings with officials, priests and seminarians and visits to displaced people in camps.