VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis says thanks to surgery that removed a portion of his colon he can now eat whatever he wants and leads “a totally normal life.”
The pontiff in a pre-recorded radio interview broadcast on Wednesday spoke about his health in the aftermath of the July 4 scheduled surgery at a Rome hospital.
“Now I can eat everything, which was not possible before with the diverticula,” Francis said. After the surgery, the Vatican said inflammation of diverticula, or pouches that protrude from the intestinal wall, had caused a narrowing of part of his large intestine.
In the interview with Cadena COPE, which is operated by the Spanish bishops’ conference, Francis said he still takes medication as his body adjusts to the smaller colon.
“I can eat everything. I still have the post-operative medications, because the brain has to register that it has 33 centimeters (about 13 inches) less intestine,” Francis said.
But, the pope added that “besides that, I have a normal life. I lead a totally normal life.”
He credited a Vatican nurse for urging him to go with the option of having surgery instead of relying on antibiotics for the bowel inflammation. “He saved my life!” the pope exclaimed in the interview.
The 84-year-old pontiff’s stamina will be put to the test later this month during a four-day pilgrimage that will take him to Hungary and Slovakia.
In the interview, Francis said he’ll also be going on other trips to Cyprus, Greece and Malta.
Francis literally laughed off, during the interview, some reports in Italian media that health concerns might prompt his resignation. “Whenever a pope is ill, there is always a breeze — or a hurricane — of a conclave.”
Conclaves are closed-door huddles of cardinals to elect a pope’s successor. In 2013, a frail Benedict XVI shocked the Catholic church and the world when he announced that he was resigning. Francis’ predecessor in the papacy was the first pope in six centuries to step down. Francis has indicated in past comments that he would consider doing the same if he felt he could no longer carry out the duties of the papacy.