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Pope Francis walked into the Vatican audience hall with a cane, looking improved in health compared to his recent appearance at Palm Sunday Mass. During his prepared text, he spoke with a strong and clear voice, showing progress in his recovery. This public appearance came after a pause in public events since Palm Sunday, where he had chosen to skip his homily due to his health concerns.

The past weeks have been challenging for the 87-year-old Pontiff, who faced difficulties in walking, needed an aide to read his remarks aloud, and experienced heavy breathing during public appearances. These struggles raised concerns about his health, especially given the demanding schedule of Holy Week. Despite these challenges, Pope Francis chose to focus on the importance of patience during his Wednesday audience. He emphasized the need for peace and an end to conflicts around the world.

Pope Francis shared a touching story of friendship between two fathers, one Palestinian and the other Israeli, who had both lost daughters in the Middle East conflict. The two men, Bassam Aramin and Rami Elhanan, transcended their differences through their shared experiences of loss and their friendship. Their story was captured in the novel “Apeirogon” by Colum McCann, and Pope Francis recognized their inspiring bond during his audience. He invited everyone to reflect on their powerful witness of resilience and commitment to peace despite suffering from war’s consequences.

Before delivering his speech, Pope Francis met with Bassam Aramin and Rami Elhanan privately, expressing his support and solidarity. At the end of the audience

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