Italian press speculates about Pope’s fragile health

The media in Italy is reporting that Pope John Paul II “is very weak” and that there is “great concern” for his health at the Vatican, despite the statements on Monday by Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls that there was no reason for reporters to be on standby throughout the night.

“The Pope blesses, but he doesn’t speak.  His condition has worsened,” reported the Italian daily Il Messaggero.  “The joy of seeing him, the sadness at seeing him this Saturday.  These were the two emotions John Paul II inspired at the beginning of his Holy Week of suffering: he will be absent from the celebrations and will remain present with his silent blessings,” the article stated.

The socialist daily La Repubblica claimed that “a wave of concern was evident throughout the Apostolic Palace after the silent appearance of John Paul II at the end of Palm Sunday Mass.”

The socialist newspaper, which in the past has mistakenly announced the Pope’s imminent death, quoted Vatican sources as saying the Pope “is truly very weak” and that the Pope himself his fully aware that “his body is betraying him, and he is living his growing weakness with much drama.”

John Paul II is under 24-hour vigilance by a medical staff lead by Dr. Renato Buzzonetti.  The Apostolic Palace has been equipped with emergency medical equipment, including respirators, oxygen, and heart monitors.

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