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Pope Francis publicly uses wheelchair for 1st time as knee pain limits mobility

The pope is famously known for declining the traditional cars provided to Cardinals for travel to parishes, instead walking through Buenos Aires when serving there.
Credit: AP
Pope Francis arrives in a wheelchair to attend an audience with nuns and religious superiors in the Paul VI Hall at The Vatican, Thursday, May 5, 2022. Pope Francis suffers from strained ligaments in his right knee. Recently Francis revealed he had undergone some injections to relieve the pain, though it wasn't clear what the procedure entailed. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

ROME, Metropolitan City of Rome — Pope Francis has arrived at an audience in a wheelchair as his knee pain continues to limit his mobility.

Francis was wheeled into the meeting Thursday with nuns and religious superiors from around the world who are meeting in Rome. It was the first time he had been seen using a wheelchair in public.

Francis, 85, has been suffering from strained ligaments in his right knee for several months. He revealed he recently received some injections to try to relieve the pain, but he has continued to struggle to walk and stand.

It's a blow to the famously mobile pope. The former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was known for taking public transport around the Argentine capital, eschewing the private cars that fellow cardinals usually take to visit parishes, until he became pope in 2013. 

Earlier in the year, he was caught by a Vatican journalist trying to walk around the city unnoticed, visiting a record store in Rome. 

The journalist, whose video footage of the pope walking out of the store, wrote a note to him afterward, explaining that he wasn’t a paparazzo and regretting Francis can't move around unnoticed anymore, but adding that the story provided a much-needed dose of good news for a world inundated with tragedy.

“I won’t deny that it was (bad luck) that after taking all the precautions, there was a journalist waiting for someone on the taxi line,” Francis replied. But he added: “You can’t lose your sense of humor.”

Writing in his trademark tiny script, Francis then repeated that what he misses most about being pope is no longer being able to take walks, as he used to do in Buenos Aires. 

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