After reluctantly bowing out of his own scheduled trip to Africa in July, Pope Francis has decided to send the Vatican's second-highest-ranking official in his place.

“Following the postponement of his Apostolic Journey to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and to South Sudan, His Holiness Pope Francis has decided to send the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to Kinshasa and Juba in order to show his closeness to the beloved peoples of the Congo and South Sudan,” the Holy See’s press office announced Monday. 

Parolin’s visit will take place July 1-8.

The Vatican first announced June 10 that Pope Francis’ July trip would be postponed for health reasons, particularly his knee. The following Sunday, the pontiff apologized for postponing his trip because of his knee pain and vowed to reschedule it “as soon as possible.” In his recent public appearances this month, he has either used a wheelchair or relied on a cane.