Pope Francis, 85, uses wheelchair on his way to tell young people they must help save the Earth


Pope Francis, 85, was seen being pushed in a wheelchair on Saturday as took a trip to Assisi to tell young people it was their duty to protect the planet and change the course of the Earth.

Francis was visiting the birthplace of his namesake saint who was close to nature when he called for ‘courage’ in abandoning fossil fuels and lamented that older generations didn’t know how to protect the planet and secure peace.

He told young people he was pinning his hopes on their efforts in working to save the planet and to make the world’s economy more attentive to the poor.

The health of the aging Pope has been under the spotlight for a while as concerned onlookers wonder whether he still has the vitality to maintain his pontiff’s duties.

He is thought to be making use of a wheelchair due to a serious knee problem that limits his mobility, although he was also reported to have had colon surgery in July to remove 33cm (13 inches) of intestine.

The Vatican described it as a ‘planned procedure’ because the Pope’s bowels had ‘narrowed.’ 

The Pope was seen being pushed in a wheelchair once more on a trip to Assisi in central Italy

Francis, 85, is thought to be making use of a wheelchair due to a serious knee problem that limits his mobility, although he was also reported to have had colon surgery in July to remove 33cm of intestine

Francis, 85, is thought to be making use of a wheelchair due to a serious knee problem that limits his mobility, although he was also reported to have had colon surgery in July to remove 33cm of intestine

Francis was visiting the birthplace of his namesake saint who was close to nature when he called for 'courage' in abandoning fossil fuels and lamented that older generations didn't know how to protect the planet and secure peac

Francis was visiting the birthplace of his namesake saint who was close to nature when he called for ‘courage’ in abandoning fossil fuels and lamented that older generations didn’t know how to protect the planet and secure peac

And in August, Francis created the post of Personal Health Assistant to the Holy Father to complement the personal doctor he already has. Italian Massimiliano Strappetti was appointed to the position, the Holy See announced that same month.

During his July trip to Canada – where the pontiff apologised for the Catholic Church’s role in the removal of indigenous children from their families to be placed with Canadian ones – he was accompanied by a nurse at all times.

During his brief visit Saturday to the hill town in central Italy, Francis spoke to a gathering of some 1,000 young people, some of them young economists. Others are involved in efforts including start-ups, focused on helping the environment.

The participants came from all over the world. Among them was a woman who recounted to the pope how she and her husband were helped to flee Afghanistan after the takeover of the Taliban last year by an organization called The Economy of Francis, which is inspired by the life of St. Francis, with his attention to the poor and others in need.

The pope said a world economy is needed that expresses ‘a new vision of the environment and the Earth.’

‘There are many people, businesses and institutions that are making an ecological conversion. We need to go forward on this road and do more,’ Francis said.

The pontiff cited an urgent need to discuss models of development.

Pope Francis attends the Economy of Francesco (EoF) event in Assisi, central Italy, where he He told young people he was pinning his hopes on their efforts in working to save the planet and to make the world's economy more attentive to the poor

Pope Francis attends the Economy of Francesco (EoF) event in Assisi, central Italy, where he He told young people he was pinning his hopes on their efforts in working to save the planet and to make the world’s economy more attentive to the poor

Francis smiles for a selfie with a participant during the Economy of Francesco (EoF)

Francis smiles for a selfie with a participant during the Economy of Francesco (EoF)

‘Now is the time for new courage in abandoning fossil fuels to accelerate the development of zero- or positive-impact sources of energy,’ Francis said.

He told the young people: ‘Our generation has left you with a rich heritage, but we have not known how to protect the planet and are not securing peace.’

He lamented a lack of ‘creativity, optimism, enthusiasm,’ and told young people that ‘we are grateful to God that you are here. Not only will you be there tomorrow, but you are here today.’

The Pope’s faith in young people might be supported by the horrors that he admitted are being perpetrated in Ukraine, revealing his charity chief who is delivering aid in Ukraine had to run and take cover after coming under gunfire last week.

Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, who is Polish, was forced to dodge bullets while on his fourth humanitarian and pastoral mission to Ukraine, sending supplies with a Catholic bishop, a Protestant bishop, and a Ukrainian soldier. 

The pope said he spoke with Krajewski yesterday, who had visited mass Ukrainian graves outside Izium, in northeast Ukraine.

Francis said today: ‘He (Krajewski) told me of the pain of these people, the savage acts, the monstrosity, the tortured bodies they find. 

‘Let us unite with these people, so noble, and martyred.’ 

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