The 84-year-old has been recovering from surgery to remove a portion of his large intestine at the Agostino Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome.
He stood for 10 minutes greeting well-wishers, seen for the first time since the procedure on July 4, at noon on what would have been the hour when he traditionally appears from a window at the Vatican overlooking St Peter’s Square.
Pope Francis leads the Angelus prayer from a balcony of the Gemelli hospital
His hospital stay was expected to last seven days. It is not clear when he might be discharged.
Reading from prepared remarks, he told the crowds: ‘I thank everyone. I very much felt your closeness and the support of your prayers.’
He described his hospital admission as an opportunity to understand the importance of a ‘good health service, accessible to all, as it is in Italy and other countries.
‘We mustn’t lose this precious thing.’
Pope Francis appeared on the balcony of the Agostino Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome on Sunday
People and staff from the hospital gathered outside to listen to the Angelus prayer
He appeared on the balcony with young oncologic patients on Sunday morning
Similar to the NHS, Italy has a national public health service, and residents can often receive treatment at private hospitals, with the costs reimbursed by the government.
He also took the time on Sunday to talk about current events.
He reiterated his closeness to Haiti, recalling the assassination of its president Jovenel Moïse and wounding of the first lady Martine Moïse last week.
Mrs Moïse issued the recorded statement in Creole from the Florida hospital yesterday where she was being treated for wounds suffered in the attack early Wednesday.
‘I’m alive, thanks to God,’ she said in the recording. ‘But I love my husband Jovenel. We fought together for more than 25 years.
‘During all these years, love radiated within the home. But suddenly, the mercenaries came and pelted my husband with bullets.
She spoke hours after it emerged that the leader of Haiti’s opposition hired a Washington DC lobbyist two days before President Moïse was assassinated – and that he is now due to be questioned by cops over his murder.
The Pope is recovering from scheduled surgery at the hospital in Rome
He spoke of topics including the EU, the environment and his relationship with Haiti
Francis also spoke about the environment, which has been a major theme of his papacy since it began in 2013.
He urged people to look after ‘the health of seas and oceans’ and said ‘no plastic in the sea!’
He also voiced hope that ‘Europe may be united in its founding values’.
It could be a possible reference to tensions between EU leaders and Hungary over LGBTQ rights crackdowns.
The new law is ostensibly designed to crack down on paedophilia, but critics say the law dangerously conflates paedophilia with homosexuality and stigmatises support for the LGBTQ+ community.
The law prohibits the sharing of any content portraying homosexuality or sex reassignment to children under-18 in school sex education programs, films and advertisements.
Earlier this week, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen warned Hungry to reverse course on its anti-LGBTQ+ policy after pressure mounted on Brussels to cut EU funding to Budapest.
The Pope has been in hospital since July 4. It is not known when he will be discharged
The 84-year-old has been recovering from surgery to remove a portion of his large intestine
The EU is soon set to reveal legal proceedings against Hungary as a result.