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Pontiff May Leave Hospital in Two Weeks

The Vatican says Pope John Paul should be in good enough condition to leave the hospital in time for Holy Week. The pope has been in the hospital for nearly two weeks recovering from throat surgery.

The papal spokesman says the Pope has suffered no complications since his throat surgery to alleviate breathing problems, and his health continues to improve.

Issuing a new medical bulletin, Vatican spokesman Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the pope should be going back to the Vatican before the start of Holy Week. But he did not provide an exact date of his discharge from the hospital.

The Roman Catholic Holy Week starts on Palm Sunday, March 20 this year, and ends on Easter Sunday, March 27th. The pope, 84, is, therefore, expected to leave the hospital in less than two weeks.

He was taken to the hospital February 24 with breathing difficulties linked to the flu. He now has a tube inserted in his throat to help him breathe better.

The Vatican spokesman also says doctors have advised the pope to use his voice sparingly, to ensure a complete recovery. He has been doing breathing and speaking exercises.

The pope appeared at the window of his hospital room Sunday, but did not speak. He looked better than the week before, but still weak. An aide read his message in Saint Peter's Square.

Roman Catholics have been waiting to know if the pope will be healthy enough to take part in Easter ceremonies. He normally presides at eight long ceremonies during Holy Week, two of them late at night.

The pope's participation at Easter services is yet to be decided, but Vatican sources say it is expected to be greatly reduced. The Vatican has said the extent of the pope's participation will be determined after his return to the Vatican.