Worrying state of the pope’s health

Source: FSSPX News


The pope’s health is still causing great anxiety. According to the press agency APIC, during the general audience of October 1, the Holy Father read a part of his catechesis on the Gospel according to Luke, in a wearied voice. He started to read the first paragraph in Italian, and then skipped many passages and ended up reading only a quarter of the text published by the press office of the Holy See. His voice hampered, he visibly stumbled over his words, but read the summary of his “catechesis” in different languages, in a voice which was slightly more dynamic than at the start.

Tuesday October 7, during a two hour pilgrimage by helicopter to the sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary at Pompeii, the first words of his speech were, as if to refute the most alarming stories which are circulating regarding his health : “The Holy Virgin has allowed me to return, to honor her at this famous sanctuary.” But according to the special envoy of La Croix (October 8), what followed was more difficult – the pope, obviously very tired, labored to read the rest of his speech, consecrated to Our Lady of the Rosary, in spite of the salvos of applause and encouragement from the thousands of faithful assembled in front of the sanctuary, each time that he stumbled over a word or simply tried to get his breath back.

On October 2, the Austrian Cardinal, Christoph Schönborn, spoke during the midday news on the main Austrian national radio channel, in his characteristic direct style: “John Paul II is nearing the last days, weeks or months of his life. Even such a life as intense and lived to the full, as that of the pope, has to end one day; what is rare is that it happens thus, witnessed by everyone. The image of the pope, suffering from Parkinson’s disease, and not always able to control his saliva, is shown without pity by the media. The whole world can see this ailing pope, handicapped and dying – even if I do not know when his death will occur”.

In the October 3 issue of Le Figaro magazine, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Vals considers that one should not stop short at the visible appearance, that the pope presents us today: “It is easy for me to share the anxiety of those who suffer to see the limitations of the Holy Father. Especially those who remember his radiant face of a few years ago. But his raison d’être in the church and the world today goes beyond his image as an aged and ailing man. (…) The essential is in the message, the ideas, the values and the objectives which the pope transmits and of which he is a witness. Their significance easily surpasses his visible appearance.” He added: “ During the recent voyage to Slovakia, I particularly remember a moment when, coming out of the cathedral of Tryavna, the pope noticed a group of handicapped people in wheelchairs. The pope, himself seated on a little mobile throne, ordered the route to be modified, so that he could get nearer to these suffering people. The pope’s hand lightly touched their faces and hands. They in their turn stretched their hands towards his face. Not a word was spoken. It was unnecessary. It was all perfectly clear, eloquent and complete.”

On October 4, Cardinal Giovanni Baptista Re, prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, interviewed on the subject of the pope’s health by the Italian daily, La Repubblica, minimized the alarming state of John Paul II’s health. During a working lunch, two days before, he found the Holy Father “very lucid intellectually and very present”. “It is evident that he has more difficulty to walk than previously and his difficulties are apparent, but it is not a problem. He does all that he can and I have to say that up to now, he has the energy to fulfill his commitments. He has a clear concept of the problems of the Church and of the world and he still has the capacity to act and make decisions.”

Nevertheless, rumor has it in the Vatican that John Paul II, who has said he would not resign, has given a letter to his secretary, Mgr. Stanislaw Dsziwiz, containing the names of one or several people to take over the direction of the Church in case of incapacity on his part. His predecessor Paul VI took the same step, as his secretary Mgr. Pasquale Macchi, revealed after his death.