Although as the days passed the worst omens were thrown and his recovery seems well under way, the questions grow about whether Pope Francis will retain the same vitality to continue facing his pontificate or if he will experience a certain physical deterioration that will force him to reduce the intensity of his activities.
If in itself leading a flock of 1,300 million souls is not easy and requires a great effort, the situation of Francis is even more demanding, having to face a very conserved sectorr, although a minority, but that resists its progressive profile, especially led by a part of the clergy of the United States.
Nor is it easy on the left. A section of the powerful German Church pushes for optional celibacy and even the female priesthood with an open-ended synod underway, while many of its priests bless gay unions against the Vatican’s indications, which it reiterated a few weeks ago.
In addition, Francisco carries out a profound reform of Vatican finances -the axis of periodic scandals- to provide them with greater transparency and prevent the Holy See from being considered a tax haven, which touches powerful interests, deeply rooted in certain Vatican circles.
Pope Francis at the Angelus, from the hospital where he is interned. Photo EFE
In his eight years of pontificate Francis had to solve inherited economic scandals and new ones like the one involving the once powerful Vatican number three, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, whose imminent embezzlement trial promises to raise dust.
The wave of sexual abuse cases Committed by members of the clergy – the scandal that most damaged the Church in the last decade – was another front that Francis faced decisively and although the cases have fallen vertically in the last two decades, it is far from being a problem overcome.
The trauma that the Church faces due to sexual crimes was reflected in the surprise resignation, in May, of Cardinal Reinhard Marx, a relevant and respected figure in Germany, who -although he is not involved in any case of abuse or cover-up- he considered that he should make a gesture.
It is that for Marx the number of cases and the lack of a convincing response from the Church -or the concealment- require institutionally assume the debacle. Furthermore, it implies that does not see a process of cultural change deep in all the clergy to face the scourge.
Francisco, however, did not accept the resignation And although he told him that he valued the gesture and agreed with all his considerations about the seriousness of the ecclesiastical crisis due to sexual abuse, he drew a comparison with Peter who told Jesus that he was not worthy of following him and he accepted it anyway.
It will be necessary to see how much it will demand to Francisco – 84 years old – his complete recovery taking into account the extraction of a part of the colon and that the operation could not be laparoscopic due to the scars from an intervention of 40 years ago due to gallbladder gangrene.
It is true that the information about his health was brief, a style that the Pope himself – affected by the low profile of his life – would have recommended so that he would not become “a media circus.” In any case, it was recorded that the exams yielded that does not have colon cancer.
One way to know the pace of his recovery and his degree of vitality will be to carefully follow his activity – and his decisions – taking into account that July is the month of recess at the Vatican and in August the papal activity is always very low.
In mid-September there will be a good indicator: is scheduled to travel to Slovakia and Hungary. The first question is whether it will actually go. Papal journeys are exhausting and Jorge Bergoglio admits that they tire him more and more.
Francis said that if he were to feel very weak, he would have no problem resigning from the papacy. But it is clear that as long as I have enough strength will go ahead with everything that was proposed.