Vatican City, Jan 23, 2021 / 13:00 pm
Pope Francis has been forced to cancel three public appearances scheduled for Sunday and Monday due to a recurrence of the nerve pain that struck him at the end of 2020.
The Holy See press office announced on Jan. 23 that because of sciatica the 84-year-old pope would be unable to celebrate Mass marking the Sunday of the Word of God in St. Peter’s Basilica.
The Mass, on Jan. 24, will be celebrated instead by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.
But Pope Francis will still lead the Angelus prayer at noon on Sunday in the library of the Apostolic Palace, where the event has taken place since a resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic in Italy.
The pope’s annual “state of the world” address to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, scheduled for Jan. 25, will now take place at a later date.
Francis will no longer preside at vespers for the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, also scheduled to take place on Monday. Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, will now lead the event at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, one of the four papal basilicas of Rome.
The pope had a bout of sciatic pain in the final days of 2020 that meant he was unable to preside at the Vatican’s liturgies on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
He had been scheduled to lead vespers on Dec. 31 and offer Mass on Jan. 1 for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, in St. Peter’s Basilica.