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Pope John Paul II Expected Out of Hospital for Holy Week


The Vatican says doctors have advised Pope John Paul II to stay in the hospital for the time being. But a papal spokesman confirmed the pope would definitely be back at the Vatican for Holy Week.

The Vatican issued its latest short medical bulletin, but failed again to announce a discharge date from the hospital where Pope John Paul II has been recovering from throat surgery he underwent two weeks ago.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the Holy Father, following his doctors' advice, will be continue his stay at the Gemelli hospital for a few days.

The spokesman stressed this was not a sign of problems. He said the reason for this is to complete his convalescence, which is progressing regularly.

The spokesman also said there is nothing that is being done by doctors at the hospital, which could not be handled at the Vatican.

He said the 84-year-old pope would like to go back to the Vatican as soon as possible, but follows his doctors' advice.

The spokesman also said that the pope continues to receive his collaborators in the hospital with whom he follows the activity of the Roman Catholic Church and the Vatican.

Dr. Navarro-Valls confirmed the pope would be back at the Vatican for the start of Holy Week on March 20. The spokesman said what form the pope's participation will take at Easter ceremonies is yet to be decided.

Vatican watcher Bob Kaiser says that from now on we'll be seeing a pope who is more of a symbol. He said whether he can talk or not remains unclear.

"[Dr.] Navarro-Valls keeps saying the pope can speak, but how much is he speaking," asked Bob Kaiser. "Is he speaking in monosyllables, is he saying yes and no?"

The faithful who have been gathering in Saint Peter's Square on Sundays while the pope is in hospital say whether he speaks or not makes no difference to them. They say even just seeing him and listening to his message read by someone else is a source of hope.