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On Wednesday, Pope Francis made a public appearance in better health, walking into the Vatican audience hall on his own with a cane. Despite facing health challenges, including difficulties in walking and needing assistance to read aloud his remarks, he displayed a clear voice as he delivered his prepared text. This marked his first public appearance since Palm Sunday Mass, where he chose to skip his homily to conserve his energy for the upcoming busy Holy Week.

The 87-year-old Pontiff has been battling various health issues, including flu, bronchitis, and cold, which have worsened during the winter. His fragile health makes the Holy Week schedule even more taxing for him. However, he refused to let these challenges deter him from sharing a powerful message of peace and compassion during his audience on Wednesday.

During the audience, Pope Francis spoke about the virtue of patience and called for an immediate halt to ongoing conflicts. He shared the story of two men in the audience hall – Bassam Aramin and Rami Elhanan – who had both lost daughters due to the Middle East conflict. Despite their shared tragedy, they had formed a deep friendship that has been documented in a novel titled “Apeirogon.”

Pope Francis commended their courage and friendship, emphasizing the importance of looking beyond enmity and embracing compassion. Before the general audience, he met with Bassam Aramin and Rami Elhanan in private. He then warmly greeted them during the audience, highlighting their powerful witness as individuals who had experienced immense loss yet chose friendship and compassion over hatred.

Overall, Pope Francis’s public appearance on Wednesday was a testament to his resilience despite facing various health challenges. His message of peace and compassion resonated with those present at the Vatican audience hall and serves as an inspiration for all who seek understanding and unity in our world today.

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