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Thousands Gather Outside Pope's Window for Vigil

Thousands of people have packed the square outside the Pope John Paul II's window to pray for the pontiff as he clings to life.

Vatican officials held a special prayer service in St. Peter's Square, where one official said "Christ is opening the door to the pope today." Earlier Mass was celebrated in a Rome basilica.

The Vatican said Friday the pope's condition has deteriorated and his breathing has become shallow. It says he has kidney problems, and increased respiratory and circulatory difficulties.

A visibly upset Vatican spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, said earlier Friday the pope received Vatican officials, asked for scriptures to be read, and celebrated Mass.

The Vatican said the pontiff had suffered a "cardio-circulatory collapse" after developing a high fever from a urinary tract infection. Officials said the pope wanted to remain at the Vatican, instead of going to the hospital.

The 84-year-old pontiff suffers from Parkinson's disease and a number of other health problems. He underwent a procedure in February to ease breathing difficulties.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP.