Pope cancels visit with Rome priests for ‘slight’ illness

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Pope Francis speaks in front the basilica of Saint Mary Ausiliatrice (Mary Help of Christians) during a two-day pastoral visit in Turin_234003

Pope Francis speaks in front the basilica of Saint Mary Ausiliatrice (Mary Help of Christians) during a two-day pastoral visit in Turin, Italy, June 21, 2015. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

VATICAN CITY (AP) – Officials say Pope Francis is sick and he skipped a planned Mass with Rome clergy across town on Thursday.

The Vatican said the 83-year-old pontiff had a “slight indisposition” and would proceed with the rest of his planned work on Thursday, but officials say Francis “preferred to stay near Santa Marta,” the Vatican hotel where he lives.

There was no word from the Vatican about the nature of his illness, but the pope was seen coughing and blowing his nose during the Ash Wednesday Mass.

It comes amid an outbreak of the coronavirus in Italy that has sickened more than 400 people, almost all of them in the north. Rome had three cases, but all three were cured.

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