Knee Ailment Forces Pope to Cancel a Visit

A Type of Arthritis Is Cited

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 24, 2002 ( John Paul II had to cancel a parish visit to a Filipino immigrant community in Rome because of a bad right knee.

News of the cancellation visit brought tears to the eyes of Filipino women at the Basilica of St. Prudenziana. On Saturday afternoon, Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls reported that the Pope had to cancel the visit to St. Prudenziana´s, planned for this morning, because of knee problems.

«Because of an incident of articular pain, caused by arthrosis, a type of arthritis, in the right knee, the Holy Father has postponed the planned visit to the Basilica of St. Prudenziana,» he explained in a press statement.

The Pope was able to make his weekly Angelus address today at St. Peter´s Square.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, John Paul II´s vicar for Rome, celebrated the Mass for the Filipino community in the Pope´s place.

Father Remo Bati, national coordinator of the Philippine Catholic communities, said at the beginning of the Mass: «We are sad because John Paul II is not here with us. We are very distressed by this little health problem that has affected the Pope, but we will not be discouraged, because we know that he loves us and asks us to follow our way of faith.»

Cardinal Ruini read the homily the Pope prepared, in which he thanked the immigrants for keeping their traditions and faith alive, «with assiduous religious practice.»

The Basilica of St. Prudenziana is the spiritual center for the 23,000 Filipinos who live in Rome.

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