Pope Francis is skipping New Year’s ceremonies. Vatican said he has a painful back condition, “painful sciatica”. The Pope won’t presided at a year-end prayer service Thursday evening in St. Peter’s Basilica and also won’t celebrate Mass on New Year’s Day in the basilica for the same reason. Francis has suffered from the problem in the past. Francis will deliver his scheduled New Year’s blessing during an appearance at noon Friday in the library of the Apostolic Palace. The Thursday evening Vespers service and the Friday Mass will go ahead but will be presided over by Vatican cardinals. The Pope is now 84 old. He is a pioneering pontiff in many ways.
Throughout his public life, Pope Francis has been noted for his humility, emphasis on God’s mercy, concern for the poor and commitment to interreligious dialogue. During the pandemic Francis canceled his regular general audiences at St. Peter’s Square to prevent crowds from gathering and spreading the virus. Pope Francis has only one lung, after having one removed due to a respiratory illness in 1969. „I see clearly that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle,”the Pope confessed in an interview in 2013.