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Pope Francis cancels trip to Dubai for UN climate change summit on doctor’s orders

Pope Francis has canceled a trip to Dubai for a United Nations climate change summit on his doctor’s orders, the Vatican said. 

Francis, who turns 87 next month, was scheduled to leave Rome on Friday to address the COP28 meeting on Saturday morning. He also was supposed to inaugurate a faith pavilion Sunday on the sidelines of the conference before returning home.

On Sunday, he revealed that he had lung inflammation but said at the time that he still planned to make the trip. 

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Monday’s announcement marked the pope’s second forced cancelation of a foreign trip. He planned to visit Sudan in 2022 but couldn’t because of knee inflammation. He made the journey earlier this year. 

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said Francis was improving from the flu and inflammation of his respiratory tract that had forced him to cancel his audiences Saturday. 

“The doctors have asked the pope not to make the trip planned for the coming days to Dubai,” he said. “Pope Francis accepted the doctors’ request with great regret and the trip is therefore canceled.”

Francis had part of a lung removed when he was younger and has been prone to respiratory problems. He also has mobility issues from strained knee ligaments that have forced him to use a wheelchair or cane. 

Francis spent 10 days at the same hospital in July 2021 following intestinal surgery for a bowel narrowing. He was readmitted in June of this year for an operation to repair an abdominal hernia and remove scarring from previous surgeries.

When asked about his health in a recent interview, Francis quipped in reply what has become his standard line — “Still alive!”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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