November 15, 2013 / 1:37 PM / 5 years ago

Pope Francis cancels audiences due to illness

Pope Francis conducts his weekly general audience at St. Peter's Square at the Vatican November 13, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis canceled several audiences on Friday due to flu, the first time his health has affected his role as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.

The 76-year-old’s wellbeing is under close scrutiny because of the shock February resignation of his predecessor Benedict, who said his health was declining and a stronger man could do the job better.

A Vatican spokesman said Francis had canceled several meetings with cardinals and bishops on Friday morning, but would still take part in the ordination of a bishop in the afternoon.

“There is no reason for worry,” Father Federico Lombardi said.

Reporting by Naomi O'Leary; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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