Pope Francis will postpone his upcoming trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan due to a continuing knee problem, the Vatican said Friday.
“At the request of his doctors, and in order not to jeopardise the results of the therapy that he is undergoing for his knee, the Holy Father has been forced to postpone, with regret, his Apostolic Journey to the Democratic Republic of Congo and to South Sudan,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement.
The trip, originally planned for July 2 to 7, will be rescheduled though no new date has been set.
Francis, 85, has been suffering from pain in his right knee in recent weeks and has sometimes been seen struggling to walk.
Last month, he relied on a wheelchair for the first time at a public event.
He has cancelled numerous engagements and postponed a scheduled trip to Lebanon in June. But according to the Catholic News Agency, he is still scheduled to visit Canada in July.
The Vatican has not officially said what the problem is but the pope has spoken of an injured ligament in his knee.
He told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera last month he would receive an “intervention with infiltration”, which Vatican sources said involved injecting anti-inflammatories into his joint.
According to the schedule for the trip which was announced by The Vatican in March, the pontiff was to visit the DRC capital, Kinshasa, as well as Goma, the main town in the restive eastern province of North Kivu.
He was then to head to Juba, the capital of South Sudan.
South Sudan, the world’s newest country, has suffered from chronic instability since independence in 2011, including a brutal five-year civil war.