Pope Francis meets members of the International Federation of Catholic Pharmacists on May 2, 2022, in the Vatican’s Santa Marta guesthouse. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, May 2, 2022 / 07:40 am (CNA).

Due to an ongoing struggle with knee pain, Pope Francis on Monday met a group of Catholic pharmacists at his Vatican residence, instead of the apostolic palace.

“This audience should have been at the apostolic palace, but because of my knee it is here. Excuse me,” the pope said May 2, at the beginning of a meeting in the Santa Marta guesthouse, where he lives.

Pope Francis, 85, has been suffering from an inflamed ligament, causing pain in his right knee and leg. He said on April 30 that his doctor has ordered him not to walk.

During some recent public audiences and liturgies, Francis has taken a smaller role or spent more time seated.

The pope’s movements have been visibly more limited since the start of the year.

While popes usually live in the papal apartments in the apostolic palace, at the start of his pontificate, Pope Francis opted to keep his apartment in the Vatican guesthouse instead.

In his meeting with representatives of the International Federation of Catholic Pharmacists, Pope Francis said the COVID-19 pandemic has placed pharmacists on the response “front lines.”

“Citizens, often lost, have found in you a point of reference for assistance, advice, information, and also — as we well know — to be able to quickly carry out the tests necessary for life and daily activities,” he said.

He encouraged pharmacists to carry out their work “on a human scale,” noting that neighborhood pharmacies can have a character of familiarity not always true of other health care environments.

Pope Francis praised the Catholic pharmacists for creating an association as a means of mutual support, and reminded them that Church associations are “always open to everyone and at the service of all, naturally with respect for the principles of Christian morality, based on the dignity of the human person.”