Pope Francis urged inmates at a Rome prison last Thursday to never let their hopes be clouded like cataracts cloud the eyes -- and revealed that he suffers from the condition and has to have surgery for it next year.
Francis, 81, disclosed the news as he bid farewell to inmates and staff at the Regina Coeli prison, where he washed the feet of 12 prisoners in a Holy Thursday ritual.
Francis frequently uses his visits to prisons to encourage inmates not to lose hope, and he repeated that by telling the prisoners that they must clear their eyes every day so they can see and spread hope.
"At my age, for example, cataracts come and you don't see reality well. Next year I have to have an operation," he said.
He said the same thing happens with life, when disillusionment, errors and fatigue cloud the soul. Francis urged the inmates to do a daily cleansing of their view on life -- a "cataract surgery for the soul" -- so they can keep hope alive.
The Vatican's deputy spokeswoman, Paloma Garcia Ovejero, confirmed Francis was speaking about his own cataracts and is due to have surgery next year, though there were no details on when.