Pope Francis has cancelled his participation in a yearly mass and procession next weekend due to ongoing knee pain, the Vatican said Monday.
The annual Corpus Domini procession, scheduled for Sunday, is a centuries-old profession of the Catholic faith during which the eucharist is exhibited publicly.
Francis has cancelled several events this year due to the strained ligaments in his right knee that have made walking and standing difficult. He has been using a wheelchair for over a month and the Vatican last week announced he had to cancel his planned July 2 to 7 trip to Africa in order not to jeopardize his recovery.
On Sunday, Francis apologized to the governments and faithful in Congo and South Sudan, saying he was upset that he had to postpone the visit and that the trip really meant a lot to him.
“I apologize to you,” he said, asking for prayers “so that with the help of God and medical treatment I can come to you as soon as possible.”
The Vatican hasn’t specified the exact nature of the problem or what treatments Francis is receiving, but he has said he has received some injections and friends say he is doing physical therapy daily.
Visit to Canada
Francis is scheduled to visit Canada from July 24 to 29 on a trip that will include stops in Edmonton, Quebec City and Iqaluit.
After the Pope cancelled his planned trip to Congo and South Sudan, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said it was in regular contact with the Vatican about the upcoming trip to Canada, and that it was seeking to “ensure his participation at events is for a limited period of time” of about one hour per event when he is here.
Francis announced his plan to visit Canada during a meeting on April 1 with First Nations, Inuit and Métis delegates, who travelled to the Vatican to meet him. At the time, he also offered an initial apology for the “deplorable conduct” of some individual Roman Catholic Church members in Canada’s residential schools from the late 19th century and through subsequent decades.