This Thursday morning Pope Francis skipped a scheduled meeting with priests in Rome “due to a slight indisposition,” said Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni.

“This morning the pontiff did not go to Saint John Lateran basilica for the Penitential Mass with Roman clergy.”

Bruni said that Pope Francis instead “preferred to remain in the rooms close to Santa Marta,” his Vatican residence, saying that the pope’s “other commitments are proceeding regularly.”

Pope Francis’ illness comes after he received an Ash Wednesday general audience amid a coronavirus outbreak in Italy with over 650 reported cases. After his celebration of Ash Wednesday liturgy, he greeted pilgrims in the front row and shook their hands.

He was seen coughing and blowing his nose during that Mass, sparking concern given the country’s current outbreak of coronavirus that Pope Francis was infected as well.

However, the claims can be simply dismissed as unfounded speculation. The rest of his meetings went on as scheduled: he offered his morning Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta guesthouse and later met with members of the Global Catholic Climate Movement. Furthermore, in his statements Matteo Bruni downplayed Pope Francis’ illness as anything but serious.

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