Bad Knee Forces Pope to Cancel Another Parish Visit

But Keeps Rest of Appointments Despite Arthritic Condition

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 3, 2002 ( For the second week in a row, John Paul II had to cancel a visit to a Roman parish because of a bad knee.

However, during his video meeting on Saturday with young people from Moscow and five other European cities, he seemed in good health and good humor.

In a statement issued Saturday, Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls reported that “the Holy Father has postponed the visit planned for Sunday, March 3, to the parish of St. Gelasius I Pope, as the pain of an arthritic nature persists in his right knee.”

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope´s vicar for Rome, who substituted the Pontiff in the parish visit, told the faithful: “The Holy Father´s visit was only postponed because of the pain in his knee, a problem that in no way is worrying, because it is small and transitory.”

The Pope had difficulty walking on Saturday afternoon during his video meeting, which was based in Paul VI Hall and drew thousands of young people. He went through the auditorium in a moving stand pushed by several attendants.

He greeted the pilgrims as usual, responded to those who wished to shake his hand with a good-natured pat and broad smile.

When he began to speak, he was interrupted several times by Italian youths shouting his name, “Giovanni Paolo.”

“This is not found in the litanies,” the Pope said, eliciting roars of laughter.

John Paul II kept all his audiences last week, both public and private, and intends to stay on schedule, the Vatican Press Office said.

The Pope canceled the two parish visits because he would have had to walk a fair amount and remain standing for considerable time, which would not have helped the arthritic problem.

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