Pope John Paul is entering a second week of hospitalization as speculation surrounds his ability to lead the Roman Catholic Church.
Italian newspapers prominently published the comments of the pope's second in command, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who told reporters Monday that the pope's resignation would be left up to his own judgment.
The Vatican says the pontiff's health continues to improve, but news media have reported that the 84-year-old pope's condition was very serious when he was admitted last Tuesday to Rome's Gemelli Hospital with breathing problems brought on by flu.
He is expected to miss tomorrow's Ash Wednesday ceremonies at the Vatican, marking the beginning of Lent, for the first time in his 26-year papacy. American Cardinal James Francis Stafford will fill in for the pope.
The Polish-born pope suffers from Parkinson's disease and arthritis, among other ailments, but he has continued to maintain a demanding schedule.
Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.