.- Cardinal Joaquin Meissner, Archbishop of Cologne, Germany commented to reporters this morning after a brief visit with the Holy Father that he is now speaking again and has a “strong” voice. The Cardinal, whose Archdiocese will host this summer’s World Youth Day said that his visit with the Pope was "very important to me because all Germans are waiting for the pope in Cologne."
"It's not important”, he said, “that the pope speak with the many, many young people, but it's his presence that's important"
"The person of the Holy Father speaks a lot."
Cardinal Meissner’s comments come less than a week after the Pope had tracheotomy surgery to insert a breathing tube into his throat. Many skeptics had been predicting that it would be weeks before John Paul would be able to speak again.
Cardinal Meissner told journalists that, “His voice is much stronger than I expected”, and that upon seeing the Cardinal, the Pope said, “I am very happy that you are here.”
The 84-year old Holy Father, who was admitted to Rome’s Gemelli Hospital on February 24th, is currently undergoing speech therapy and is reported to be recovering well.
The Pope had decided to skip this morning’s popular Wednesday audience in favor of furthering his speech exercises. The Holy See announced that there would be no substitute today.
Vatican Press Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls announced that the Holy See would issue an official update on the Pope’s condition tomorrow morning.