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Letter from Rome: The pope's planned Sunday night surgery

Spin doctors try to downplay the seriousness of Pope Francis' health condition

Letter from Rome: The pope's planned Sunday night surgery

Like most normal people, Pope Francis secretly planned to undergo a major intestinal operation on a Sunday night in July in a Rome hospital. And like most normal people, he did not tell anybody except his personal physician and his chauffeur.

The Holy See Press Office insisted that the invasive surgery the 84-year-old pope underwent on July 4 at the Gemelli Hospital had been arranged.

But the news came as a complete surprise to almost everyone, including people in the Vatican — from the cleaning staff to the highest-ranking cardinals in the Roman Curia. No one had heard a thing about it.

The pope's spin doctors (even those self-appointed) said Francis decided to keep it secret because he did not want anyone to make a fuss over him and he did not want to create a media circus. And because he wanted to protect his privacy.

Just like most normal people.

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