(HealthDay News) – Pope Francis was back delivering Mass on Palm Sunday, just one day after he was released from the hospital following a three-day stay for bronchitis.
Francis, 86, celebrated in St. Peter’s Square in Rome as about 60,000 people looked on, carrying palm fronds or olive tree branches, CBS News reported.
The evidence of the pope’s recent illness could be heard as his voice became strained soon after starting.
Francis first rode to the Mass holding a braided palm branch amid a long procession of cardinals, prelates and other Catholics, CBS News reported.
The pope delivered a 15-minute homily, talking about homelessness and pain.
Francis talked about moments when people feel “extreme pain, love that fails, or is rejected or betrayed.″ Francis cited “children who are rejected or aborted,” as well as broken marriages, “forms of social exclusion, injustice and oppression, [and] the solitude of sickness,” CBS News reported.
He also talked about “young people who feel a great emptiness inside without anyone really listening to their cry of pain,” and who “find no other path but that of suicide.” And he spoke of a homeless German man who had died recently under the colonnade circling St. Peter’s Square.
“I, too, need Jesus to caress me and be near to me,″ Francis said. “Entire peoples are exploited and abandoned; the poor live on our streets and we look the other way; migrants are no longer faces but numbers; prisoners are disowned, people written off as problems.”
Francis thanked the crowd, “for your participation and prayers, that in the last days you intensified.″
While Palm Sunday is meant to signify Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem prior to his crucifixion, it’s also the start of a busy Holy Week that will end with Easter Sunday on April 9.
The week will include “more intense prayer” for the “martyred Ukrainian people,” Francis added.
After the Mass, Francis also greeted each of the cardinals, while sitting in the wheelchair he uses because of a chronic knee problem, before returning to the popemobile and a loop around the square, CBS News reported.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more on bronchitis.
SOURCE: CBS News
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