(Vatican City) Pope Francis had “a good night”, a Vatican source said Thursday, the day after he was hospitalized in Rome for a respiratory infection, a new alert for the head of the Catholic Church who, at 86, suffers chronic health problems.

The pope’s night was “quiet” and the staff following him are “very optimistic”, according to the Italian agency Ansa, citing hospital sources.

Reassuring news as the contradictory information distilled on Wednesday by the Vatican had raised concerns about the real state of health of the Argentinian Jesuit, who made headlines in the Italian press on Thursday. “Pope Francis: The Great Fear,” headlined the Turin daily La Stampa on its website.

After mentioning “scheduled examinations”, the Vatican spokesman finally announced Wednesday evening that he was suffering from a “respiratory infection”.

“In recent days, Pope Francis has had difficulty breathing and […] he was admitted to the A. Gemelli Polyclinic for medical checks,” according to Matteo Bruni.

These analyzes “revealed a respiratory infection” unrelated to COVID-19 and the pope will have to undergo treatment in the hospital for “a few days”, he said.

Joe Biden, the second Catholic president in American history, on Wednesday called on attendees at a White House reception to “say one more prayer” for the pope.

The bishops of France, meeting in Lourdes, invited Thursday on Twitter “the Catholic faithful to unite their prayers for the

According to hospital sources cited by Ansa, the Pope should be able to preside over Palm Sunday Mass, but the Vatican has not communicated on this subject.

The pope’s agenda also includes celebrations for Holy Week and Easter, a highlight of the Catholic world, and he is expected in Budapest at the end of April.

“I hope he will recover very quickly and that he will be able to celebrate Easter here in Saint-Pierre,” Tina Montalbano, a 60-year-old Italian tourist guide whom he met on Thursday morning, told AFP. place.

“The fear is still there, but it seems like everything is fine at the moment,” she added.

This sudden hospitalization took the world by surprise, especially since on Wednesday morning, Jorge Bergoglio had again participated as every week in the general audience in Saint Peter’s Square, during which he appeared smiling, greeting the faithful from his ” popemobile”.

François, who has been in a wheelchair since May 2022 due to chronic knee pain, had already been hospitalized for ten days at Gemelli Hospital in July 2021 for a major colon operation.

He admitted to having kept “after-effects” of the anesthesia, which led him to rule out knee surgery so far.

The pain caused by this joint, which notably forced him to cancel several appointments in 2022 and to postpone a trip to Africa, is at the heart of conjecture about his possible resignation.

The head of the Catholic Church has always left the door open to this possibility. His predecessor Benedict XVI resigned in 2013, taking the world by surprise.

François, for his part, blows hot and cold on this delicate subject.

After having mentioned in July the possibility of “putting oneself aside”, he had judged in February that the resignation of a pope should “not become a fashion”, assuring that this hypothesis was “not on his agenda for the moment. “.

The Pope is constantly monitored by a team of caregivers, whether in the Vatican or during his travels abroad.

A precaution all the more necessary since this octogenarian has a heavy medical history behind him: at 21, he almost died of pleurisy and suffered a partial ablation of one of his lungs.