Coughing Pope Francis won’t attend week-long spiritual retreat

A coughing Pope Francis said Sunday that “unfortunately a cold” will prevent him from participating in a week-long spiritual retreat.

The 83-year-old pontiff paused twice to cough while addressing thousands for his weekly blessing from St. Peter’s Square, where he announced that he won’t be attending the Lenten spiritual retreat in the Roman countryside.

He asked for prayers for the spiritual retreat, adding that “unfortunately a cold prevents me from participating this year. I will be following the meditation from here.”

His Sunday appearance marked the first time he had been seen in public since Ash Wednesday in Rome, where he was spotted battling a cold.

The Vatican had not previously specified what was ailing Francis comes as the coronavirus sweeps Italy.

“There is no evidence that would lead to diagnosing anything but a mild indisposition,” spokesman Matteo Bruni said on Friday.

Italy has reported more than 1,100 confirmed coronavirus cases, mostly in northern regions, and at least 29 people have died.

With Post wires

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