VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is skipping New Year's ceremonies due to what the Vatican says is a painful back condition.
A spokesman says Francis is suffering from “painful sciatica” and won't preside at a year-end prayer service Thursday evening in St. Peter's Basilica.
He also won't celebrate Mass on New Year's Day in the basilica.
Francis has suffered from the problem in the past. Sciatica can cause back and leg pain and is due to compression on nerve roots or on the sciatic nerve which runs from the lower spine down the thigh.
The spokesman said Francis will give a noon blessing on Friday.