Pope to attend Easter services as condition improves

POPE John Paul II is likely to be released from hospital in time for Holy Week services later this month, the Vatican said yesterday.

The Pope has suffered no complications since surgery last month to insert a tube in his windpipe and ease his second breathing crisis in a month, said papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls.

But he said doctors have cautioned John Paul not to use his voice too much.

“I think the pope will be here for Holy Week,” Mr Navarro-Valls said.

He said doctors would decide when the tube could be removed. Once the 84-year-old pontiff is back at the Vatican, officials will determine his participation in the week of services leading up to Easter on March 27, the spokesman said.

“The general conditions of the Holy Father continue to improve, which allows the pope to spend long periods of the day in an armchair,” the Vatican’s latest medical bulletin said.

“No complications have arisen because of the tracheotomy. Continual improvement can also be seen in speaking, thanks to the daily rehabilitation,” it said.

But it added that “doctors have prescribed a prudent limitation in the pope’s use of his voice” to help his larynx recover.

The Vatican said it would issue its next update on Thursday. Roman Catholics worldwide have been awaiting word on whether the Pope was making a strong enough rebound to participate in the run-up to Easter, the most important date on the Christian calendar.

The pope has Parkinson’s disease, a progressive neurological disorder which affects muscle control, making speech and physical movement difficult.

The increasing immobility, along with the stooped posture, makes Parkinson’s patients highly vulnerable to breathing problems.

On Sunday, he made an appearance at a window of his suite, his second such appearance since being rushed by ambulance to Rome’s Gemelli Polyclinic.

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