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Pope returns to Vatican, ‘is better than before,’ surgeon says

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ROME — Pope Francis has returned to the Vatican after a nine-day hospital stay and intends to go ahead with his planned trips abroad in August and September, according to his chief surgeon.

“The pope is fine. He’s better than before,” said Dr. Sergio Alfieri, the chief surgeon who operated on the pope June 7 to repair a hernia; he also operated on the pope in 2021.

“The pope has confirmed all his trips,” the doctor told reporters outside Rome’s Gemelli hospital June 16, right after the pope was released.

The pope was scheduled to attend World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal, Aug. 2-6, and to go to Mongolia Aug. 31-Sept. 4.

“As a matter of fact,” Alfieri said, according to Vatican News, “he will be able to embark on them better than before because now he will no longer have the discomfort of his previous ailments. He will be a stronger pope.”

When asked about the pope’s “convalescence” to fully heal from abdominal surgery, Alfieri said, “he doesn’t convalesce; he has already started working.”

When the pope emerged from the hospital in a wheelchair the morning of June 16, he greeted well-wishers and journalists who asked him how he was.

“I’m still alive,” he said, smiling.

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