Vatican denies claims Pope has curable brain tumour

The Vatican is denying as “completely unfounded” a report in an Italian newspaper that Pope Francis has a small, curable brain tumour.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev Federico Lombardi, said the report in the National Daily was “completely unfounded and seriously irresponsible and not worthy of attention.”

Citing unnamed nursing sources, the National Daily said the 78-year-old P{ope had travelled by helicopter to the San Rossore di Barbaricina clinic near Pisa in recent months to see a Japanese brain cancer specialist, Dr Takanori Fukishima.

The newspaper said the doctor determined that the small dark spot on Francis’ brain could be treated without surgery.

Lombardi said the Pope never travelled by helicopter to Tuscany and repeated that “all of it is unfounded.”

He didn’t respond to a question about whether Fukushima had examined Francis anywhere.

“I can confirm that the Pope is in good health,” Lombardi said.

“If you were in the piazza this morning you would have seen that as well. And if you go on the trips with him, you know he has a small problem with his legs, but his head is absolutely perfect.”

The ANSA news agency, citing unnamed sources in Pisa, subsequently reported that Fukushima had travelled to the Vatican in January and Francis’ diagnosis had been made at the time.

The newspaper’s editor, Andrea Cangini, said it stood by its story.

“This denial is understandable and expected,” he said. “We waited a long time before publishing the report in order to carry out every possible check. We don’t have the slightest doubt that it is founded.”

Subsequent versions of the report said Fukushima had travelled to the Vatican by helicopter and was seen returning to the Pisa clinic in the Vatican’s chopper.

The hospital’s director did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Cangini said the paper had deliberated a long time before publishing the news.

The publication, however, comes at a delicate time for Francis, in the final days of his hotly contested synod on the family, which has shown a split among conservative and liberal bishops over how to convey the church’s teachings on marriage, sex, homosexuality and other issues.

Several conservative bishops and cardinals have complained that the synod is creating confusion and “anxiety” about the church’s teachings.

The Pope has appeared to be in good health in recent months apart from some leg pain due to the fact that he suffers from sciatica, for which he undergoes regular physical therapy in the Vatican.


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