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Pope Cancels Wednesday General Audience - 2003-09-24

Pope John Paul II has canceled Wednesday's weekly general audience at the Vatican because of an intestinal problem.

Vatican officials say the problem is not serious, but they said doctors advised the pope to rest. They gave no other details.

The Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, presided in the pope's absence Wednesday, reading the pontiff's prepared address to pilgrims. Pope John Paul delivered the final blessing to the audience over an audio link from his summer residence at Castel Gandolofo.

It is rare for the pope to cancel events on such short notice.

Pope John Paul suffers from Parkinson's disease as well as hip and leg problems that make it almost impossible for him to stand.

He returned last week from a grueling trip to Slovakia and has a busy schedule next month, when he celebrates the 25th anniversary of his papacy.