Pope John Paul II

Thursday, March 31, 2005

A file photograph shows Pope John Paul II during his weekly general audience in Rome October 2, 1996. Vatican officials are increasingly pessimistic about the prospects for Pope John Paul’s full recovery from his ailments, with many agreeing that he has entered a new and perhaps final phase of his long papacy. REUTERS/Photo by Paul Hanna

Vatican Mood Pessimistic on Full Pope Recovery


Filed at 2:55 p.m. ET

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Vatican officials are increasingly pessimistic about the prospects for Pope John Paul’s full recovery from his ailments, with many agreeing that he has entered a new and perhaps final phase of his long papacy.

The 84-year-old Pope has been convalescing from throat surgery for more than a month now and aides say he is disappointed by the slow pace of his recovery.

The Vatican sources, all clerics who work in the Vatican, spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday about the mood inside the tiny city-state where the Pope is supreme sovereign.

Speaking a day after doctors began feeding the Pontiff via a tube in his nose, they expressed various shades of pessimism.

“We are on standby for anything,” one priest who works in an important Vatican department said.

“Hardly anyone thinks the situation will improve but everyone is hoping for a miracle,” he said.

Doctors Wednesday inserted a feeding tube through the Pope’s nose and into his stomach to try to boost his strength and help his recovery.

“If you add up Parkinson’s disease, his age, his previous stomach operations, his breathing difficulties, his digestive problems, it makes for a pretty grim picture,” the priest said.

Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn said the Pope was “approaching, as far as a person can tell, the end of his life,” the Austrian news agency APA reported.

The Pope has difficultly swallowing because Parkinson’s Disease limits muscle movement. He has had a breathing tube, known as a cannula, in his throat since Feb. 24.

The cannula is expected to be permanent. The nasal feeding tube is expected to be temporary but if he does not regain the ability to eat normally it may have to be replaced with a permanent tube inserted directly into his stomach.


“I know the Pope is very disappointed with the progress of his rehabilitation and would like it to be much faster,” said another source, a Vatican monsignor.

“This is a new phase in this papacy,” the source said, adding the Pope would most likely have to face what looks set to be “a permanent state of precarious health.”

The source said the Pope was still being briefed on Church business and was able “to communicate both in writing and speaking.”

Shortly before the feeding tube was inserted Wednesday, the Pope dramatically failed in his efforts to speak in public for the second time in four days.

But the monsignor said the Pope has been able to speak in private, otherwise he would not have asked for a microphone on both occasions.

“Everyone here is worried,” said another cleric.

All four Vatican sources said the Pope was still lucid and alert despite his physical difficulties.

“No one is trying to pull the wool over his eyes,” one of the monsignors said.

A Vatican statement Wednesday was at pains to say the Pope was still in charge.

The statement said the Pope was spending “many hours of the day” in an armchair, celebrating Mass in his private chapel, and was in “working contact with his aides, directly following the activity of the Holy See and the Church.”

The Pope underwent a tracheotomy on Feb. 24 in Rome’s Gemelli Hospital, where he spent a total of 28 days in two stints in February and March.

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One Response to “Pope John Paul II”

  1. Charles Says:

    Hopefully there will come a time when we will be able to use stem cells. I think after this administration is out, that might happen. So many people are open to it. I hope that this post finds you doing ok and that you are enjoying this nice, warm weather. Thank you so much for sharing your site.

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