The Vatican has strongly denied an Italian media reports that Pope Francis has a small but curable tumor on his brain.
Italian newspaper Quotidiano said Pope Francis had travelled by helicopter to Tuscany to see a world-renowned Japanese brain surgeon.
The pontiff was diagnosed with a small, dark spot but did not need surgery, the paper said.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the report was totally unfounded.
“As everyone can see, the Pope is carrying out his extremely intense activities in an absolutely normal manner,” he said.
The publication quoted an unnamed employee at the clinic saying such a small tumor could be treated and did not need any kind of surgical intervention.
Quotidiano’s editor, Andrea Cangini, said the denial was understandable and had been expected.
The timing of the report is seen as awkward for the Vatican, as 279 bishops from around the world approach the end of their three-week Synod on the Family.
The meeting, which ends on October 25, is considered one of the key tests of Pope Francis’s papacy as it has wrestled with the Church’s attitude towards same-gender unions, contraception and its refusal to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to take Communion.
Earlier this year, Pope Francis indicated his papacy may last only a few years, and that he might retire like his predecessor Benedict XVI, who stepped down as pontiff in 2013.
Pope Francis appeared before thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square as normal on October 21, and was due to return to the Synod later in the day.