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Pope's message read by aide as he recovers from illness

Pope's message read by aide as he recovers from illness

Pope Francis says he is still suffering from a recent cold, chesty cough and mild bout of the flu. “I haven’t gotten over it,” the pontiff declared Saturday morning at the Vatican, addressing more than 3,000 staff.

A Vatican official - Filippo Ciampanelli of the Secretariat of State - read out Francis' message to members of the community of the Vatican-owned Rome children's hospital Bambino Gesù.

The message emphasised donation as a fundamental aspect of the history and vocation of the hospital. It encouraged medical staff to continue welcoming children in need from around the world, regardless of their social status, nationality or religion.

He urged the community "go forward in this blessed work".

Francis greeted some 200 young patients including some from Ukraine and Gaza.