VATICAN CITY, July 18 (Reuters) – Pope Francis made his first public appearance since returning to the Vatican mid-week after an 11-day hospital stay, telling supporters they should take a break and get away from the stress of modern life.
“Let’s put an end to the frantic race dictated by our agendas. Let’s learn to take a break, to turn off the cell phone, ”Pope Francis said in his weekly address from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.
The 84-year-old pope had part of his colon removed during surgery on July 4 – the first time Francis has faced a significant health problem in his eight years as the papacy.
He returned to the Vatican on Wednesday, where he needed the help of assistants to get out of his car. He looked good on Sunday, speaking in a relatively clear voice but not as loud as before he was hospitalized. He did not mention his stay in the hospital.
Hundreds of people gathered in the sunny plaza and cheered when he appeared through the open window.
As is often the case, at the end of his speech, the Pope referred to some of the events that made headlines around the world.
He called for an end to the recent public unrest in South Africa and called for peace and dialogue in Cuba after unprecedented protests that rocked the communist-led country.
“I am also close to the dear people of Cuba in these difficult times, especially the families who are particularly suffering,” Francis said to cheers.
He also referred to the catastrophic floods of recent days in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, which have left more than 180 dead. (Report by Crispian Balmer edited by Frances Kerry)
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