Pope Francis has a respiratory infection and will need to spend a few days in hospital in Rome, the Vatican says.
The 86-year-old had breathing difficulties in recent days but does not have Covid, a statement said.
It said he would need “a few days of appropriate hospital medical therapy”.
“Pope Francis is touched by the many messages received and expresses his gratitude for the closeness and prayer,” the statement added.
His closest staff, including security, are expected to stay the night at the Gemelli Hospital, a person with direct knowledge told the BBC.
This is the busiest time of the year for Pope Francis, with many events and services scheduled ahead of Easter weekend.
A Palm Sunday Mass is scheduled this weekend, and Holy Week and Easter celebrations next week.
He is also scheduled to visit Hungary at the end of April.
On Wednesday morning, he presided over his weekly general audience in St Peter’s Square. He appeared in good spirits but was seen grimacing as he was helped into his vehicle.
The Vatican initially said the Pope had gone to hospital for a previously scheduled check-up, but Italian media have questioned this account after a television interview was cancelled at short notice.
Reacting to the news, President Joe Biden asked people to make an “extra prayer” for the Pope’s recovery.
Mr Biden, who is only the second Roman Catholic to be elected leader of the US, also described the pontiff as one of the “most Christ-like figures I’ve ever met”.
People in the Pope’s home city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, shared their feelings with Reuters news agency. One man, Daniel Saco, said the pontiff “must ask himself whether he can continue”.
“It is very sad because, as a Latin American, I feel represented by this Pope, who is very open-minded and human,” said Victoria Veira, who is originally from Brazil.
Anibal Pizelle, who met the Pope when he was bishop of Buenos Aires, said she was optimistic for a recovery as Francis was “physically and mentally strong” and a “person with enormous faith”.
The Pope has used a wheelchair in recent months because of mobility problems related to his knee.
He also underwent surgery to treat a colon problem in 2021. In January, he said the condition had returned.
Despite his ailments, the Pope has remained active and has undertaken trips abroad. He visited the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan in February.
In January, the Pope led the funeral of his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI – who was the first pope to step down voluntarily for centuries. He said this was due to ill health.
Pope Francis has previously indicated that he may also wish to follow in Benedict’s footsteps in the event that his health deteriorates.
Tamil Nadu bans cotton candy over cancer risk
Can cotton candy give you cancer?
Some Indian states think so and have banned the sale of the pink, wispy, sugary-sweet treat.
Last week, the southern state of Tamil Nadu implemented the ban after lab tests confirmed the presence of a cancer-causing substance, Rhodamine-B, in samples sent for testing.
Earlier this month, the union territory of Puducherry banned the sweet treat while other states have begun testing samples of it.
Cotton candy, also called buddi-ka-baal (old woman’s hair) in India because of its appearance, is popular with children the world over.
It’s a fixture in amusement parks, fairs and other places of entertainment frequented by children, who like it because of its sticky, melt-in-the-mouth texture.
But some Indian officials say that the candy is more sinister than it seems.
P Satheesh Kumar, food safety officer in Chennai city in Tamil Nadu, told The Indian Express newspaper that the contaminants in cotton candy “could lead to cancer and affect all organs of the body”.
His team raided candy sellers at a beach in the city last week. Mr Kumar said the sweet sold in the city was made by independent sellers and not registered factories.
A few days later, the government announced a ban on its sale after lab tests detected the presence of Rhodamine-B, a chemical compound, in the samples. The chemical imparts a fluorescent pink hue and is used to dye textiles, cosmetics and inks.
Studies have shown that the chemical can increase the risk of cancer and Europe and California have made its use as a food dye illegal.
While banning cotton candy in Tamil Nadu, Health Minister Ma Subramanian said in a statement that using Rhodamine-B in the “packaging, import, sale of food or serving food containing it at weddings and other public events would be punishable under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006”.
Taking a cue from Tamil Nadu, the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh has also reportedly started testing samples of the candy to check for the presence of the carcinogen.
And earlier this week, the New India Express newspaper reported that food safety officials in Delhi too were pushing for a ban on cotton candy.
Indian farmers say they will resume march to New Delhi
Protesting Indian farmers say they will resume marching to capital Delhi this week after rejecting a government proposal to buy some crops at assured prices on a five-year contract.
The protesters began marching last week but were stopped around 200km (125 miles) from Delhi.
Since then, farmer leaders were in talks with the government on their demands.
But on Monday night, they said the offer was “not in their interest”.
The government had proposed buying pulses, maize and cotton at guaranteed floor prices – also known as Minimum Support Price or MSP – through cooperatives for five years.
But the farmers say that they will stand by their demand of a “legal guarantee for MSP on all 23 crops”.
“We appeal to the government to either resolve our issues or remove barricades and allow us to proceed to Delhi to protest peacefully,” Jagjit Singh Dallewal, a farm union leader, told local media.
They say they will resume marching from Wednesday.
Farmers form an influential voting bloc in India and and analysts say the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be keen not to anger or alienate them. His Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is seeking a third consecutive term in power in general elections this year.
Last week, authorities clashed with the protesters, firing tear gas and plastic bullets at them in a bid to halt the march. They fear a repeat of 2020, when thousands of farmers camped at Delhi’s borders for months, forcing the government to repeal controversial agricultural reforms.
The latest round of protests began on Wednesday, when farmers from Haryana and Punjab started marching to Delhi. They say the government did not keep promises made during the 2020-21 protest, and also have demands including pensions and a debt waiver.
But their most important demand is a law guaranteeing a support price for crops.
India introduced the MSP system in the 1960s – first for only wheat and later other essential crops – in a bid for food security.
Supporters of MSP say it is necessary to protect farmers against losses due to fluctuation in prices. They argue that the resulting income boost will allow farmers to invest in new technologies, improve productivity and protect cultivators from being fleeced by middlemen.
But critics say the system needs an overhaul as it is not sustainable and will be disastrous for government finances. They also say that it will be ruinous for the agricultural sector in the long run, leading to over-cultivation and storage issues.
Since last week, federal minister Piyush Goyal and other government officials had held four rounds of talks with the farmers. On Sunday, Mr Goyal told journalists that the discussions had been “positive” and that the government was devising an “out-of-the-box” solution to benefit farmers, consumers and the economy.
But on Monday, farmer leaders said they were dissatisfied with the way the talks were being held, claiming that there was no “transparency”.
Greece legalizes same-sex marriage
Greece has become the first Christian Orthodox-majority country to legalise same-sex marriage.
Same-sex couples will now also be legally allowed to adopt children after Thursday’s 176-76 vote in parliament.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the new law would “boldly abolish a serious inequality”.
But it has divided the country, with fierce resistance led by the powerful Orthodox Church. Its supporters held a protest rally in Athens.
Many displayed banners, held crosses, read prayers and sang passages from the Bible in the capital’s Syntagma Square.
The head of the Orthodox Church, Archbishop Ieronymos, said the measure would “corrupt the homeland’s social cohesion”.
The bill needed a simple majority to pass through the 300-member parliament.
Mr Mitsotakis had championed the bill but required the support of opposition parties to get it over the line, with dozens of MPs from his centre-right governing party opposed.
“People who have been invisible will finally be made visible around us, and with them, many children will finally find their rightful place,” the prime minister told parliament during a debate ahead of the vote.
“The reform makes the lives of several of our fellow citizens better, without taking away anything from the lives of the many.”
The vote has been welcomed by LGBTQ organisations in Greece.
“This is a historic moment,” Stella Belia, the head of same-sex parents’ group Rainbow Families, told Reuters news agency. “This is a day of joy.”
Fifteen of the European Union’s 27 members have already legalised same-sex marriage. It is permitted in 35 countries worldwide.
Greece has until now lagged behind some of its European neighbours, largely because of opposition from the Church.
It is the first country in south-eastern Europe to have marriage equality.
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