The Pope, 77, was seen in difficulties shortly after the start of the service and had to cut his sermon down to a mere 75 minutes.
Questions about his health have seriously raised the possibility of the return of Pope Benedict who resigned the papacy only last year, ironically due to health issues. Vatican insiders have suggested that Francis may be forced to take a break whilst he regains his strength, which has paved the way for a symbolic resurrection for Benedict in time for Easter.
Whilst Francis was portrayed as a vigorous youth when compared with his predecessor, it has to be acknowledged that in civilian life he would be regarded as an old codger who spends most of his time in post office queues grumbling about Eastern Europeans.
“If His Holiness needs a few months off, it makes sense to draft in someone who knows the ropes,” an indiscreet Cardinal confessed to the Evening Harold. “The day to day business of the Church has to continue. Priests and Nuns don’t defrock themselves on their own, you know.”
At the moment, the return of Benedict appears to be the best solution, “After all,” said our Cardinal, “electing yet another pope would be ridiculous. You can’t have three popes alive at the same time. That would be more like Dr Who.”
Although now 86, Pope Benedict is said to have benefited from his retirement and is keen to bend over backwards to help in any way he can, health permitting. Confidants say that his lifelong companion, Adolf, and their adopted children are understood to be supportive.
Officially, speculation has been supressed. A Vatican statement issued this morning blamed Pope Francis’ difficulties on an altar boy lighting too much incense at the service. “The boy in question will be disciplined in the usual manner” concluded the statement.