Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Pope Sicker?

by Steve Ray on March 22, 2005

New crisis in Pope’s health?

Vatican, Mar. 22 (CWNews.com) – The director of the Vatican press office abruptly withdrew from a news conference on Tuesday, March 22, amid rumors of a new crisis in the health of Pope John Paul II (bionews).

The Vatican has made no recent announcement about the Pope’s health, aside from formal notice that the Holy Father would not hold his regular weekly public audience on Wednesday. That notice, made by Father Ciro Benedettini, the deputy director of the press office, had been expected.

However, reporters were put on alert by the last-minute announcement that Joaquin Navarro-Valls would not attend a press conference, where he was scheduled to discuss a new film about John Paul II that is scheduled to air on Italian television on Easter Sunday.

Navarro-Valls gave no reason for his sudden withdrawal. But one of the organizers of the news conference, asked to explain, replied: “You know very well why.”

Speculation about the Holy Father’s physical condition has heightened since his brief public appearance on Palm Sunday, when the Pope seemed to be in acute pain. During a 2-minute appearance at the window of his apartment in the apostolic palace, the Pope put his hand to his head in a sign of distress– a gesture that he had made several times during a video appearance at a youth meeting on March 17. During that earlier meeting, the video feed of the Pope’s image was disrupted several times, evidently while aides sought to ease the Pope’s discomfort. The Polish Archbishop Henryk Hosser, secretary of the Congregation for Evangelization, told the Roman news agency I Media that John Paul II is suffering “in sympathy with the Passion of Christ.” He added: “It is difficult to say what the immediate future will bring, but this situation gives a special atmosphere to this Holy Week.”