Serious concerns over the Pope’s health

Source: FSSPX News


During his visit to Slovakia in mid-September, John Paul II appeared extremely tired. When he arrived at Bratislava airport, it required about twenty minutes, and the assistance of four people, to help him in to the lift which enabled him to leave the plane. Once on the tarmac, he made his way to the airport reception, seated on a chair which was mounted on a moving platform.

While speeches were being exchanged, the Pope had to stop after the first paragraph, out of breath and no longer able to articulate sufficiently. His private secretary, Mgr. Stanislaw Dziwisz, took the text from him and gave it to a young Slovak prelate from the Vatican. John Paul II resumed his speech in order to read the last paragraph, but with as much difficulty as before. – One of the members of his entourage told the agency APIC that all travel plans had been suspended for the time being, adding: “we can not hide anything, everyone can see and sense only too well that the Pope’s health has seriously declined in the past few months.”

On Wednesday September 24, due to “intestinal problems”, the Holy Father was unable to carry out his general audience. It was the Secretary of State, Cardinal Sodano, who sat in his place, in front of thousands of pilgrims in the Paul VI Hall, and read the planned speech.

Doctor Christine Tranchant, a neurologist at the CHU in Strasbourg, who was interviewed by La Croix on September 18, recalled the symptoms of his illness: “Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disease of the nervous system, which gives rise to a number of symptoms relating to movement. Classically, there are three signs of the presence of this disease. The first is a tremor, which manifests itself even when the person is immobile. The second sign is an akinesia, that is, a slowing down of movement. It is not a true paralysis, but the person has difficulties in carrying out certain gestures. Finally, the patient shows a stiffening of the muscles, which is less obvious but can play a part in his functional difficulties. These three signs, which are classic in those suffering from Parkinson’s disease, grow worse with time and can lead to a loss of autonomy.”

To the question of whether there is a loss of intellectual function: “Certain patients, notably the very old, can have a loss of intellectual function. But this generally remains very mild and is nothing like that encountered in Alzheimer’s disease, for example. We really have to dissociate the appearance of a person from his intellectual state. A person afflicted with Parkinson’s disease can have difficulty in expressing himself because of his illness, but at the same time have his intellectual capacity wholly intact.”

And on the effectiveness of the treatment: “There are medicines today which improve some symptoms of the disease, without slowing down its development. These treatments, which have to be taken every day, have an efficacity which diminishes with time. The result of which is that the patient is often obliged to increase the dosage of these medicines, which can have side effects, notably abnormal movements.”

Doctor Patrick Métais, head of the department of geriatry at the hospital of Neuilly-Courbevoie, stated in La Croix of September 25: “At this stage of the illness, medicines in general have scarcely any effect. Today it is clear that his doctors must have the greatest difficulty in finding a therapeutic balance.”