Due to the aggravation of the disease, the pontiff was forced to miss New Year’s services.
Pope Francis reappeared on Friday, January 1, in public, after a chronic illness forced him to miss the New Year’s church service. The Pontiff did not mention his ill health when he delivered his traditional New Year’s address today.
Pope Francis could not attend services on Thursday and Friday morning because of sciatica, a relatively common disease that causes pain along the sciatic nerve in the lower back and legs.
It is believed that for the first time since he became pontiff in 2013, Francis, who turned 84 last month, was unable, for health reasons, to lead a large service at the Vatican. Today, however, he showed no signs of discomfort as he delivered a speech and prayer while standing at the pulpit in the library of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.
“Today’s life is governed by war, enmity, and many destructive things. We want peace. This is a gift,” the head of the Roman Catholic Church said, adding that the response to the global coronavirus crisis has demonstrated the importance of sharing the burden between countries and peoples.
“The painful events that marked the path of humanity last year, especially the pandemic, have taught us how necessary it is to take an interest in the problems of others and share their concerns,” he said.
The midday blessing is usually given from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, but this time it was moved indoors to prevent large crowds and limit the spread of COVID-19.
Francis emphasized his concern about the situation in Yemen. The country has been ravaged by six years of violence and a standoff between the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthi movement linked to Iran. At least 22 people were killed in an attack on Aden Airport on Wednesday, December 30. The attack prompted a series of coalition air raids in response.
“I express my sorrow and alarm at the further escalation of violence in Yemen, which is causing the death of a large number of innocent people,” Pope Francis said. “Let’s think about the hungry children of Yemen, deprived of access to education and medicine.”