Kneeling May Have Taken a Toll on John Paul II

Sources Link Arthritic Condition to Prayerful Pose

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 6, 2002 ( John Paul II´s doctors believe that the arthrosis he suffers from is due to long hours of prayer on his knees, the Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported.

This country´s largest-circulation newspaper today quoted sources close to the Pope´s personal physician, Renato Buzzonetti, to exclude the possibility that his suffering is caused by other health problems.

Sources said that medical tests indicate the Pope´s problem was not caused by degeneration of the hip prosthesis, which he received in 1994.

John Paul II began to feel intense pain on Feb. 23, on the last day of his yearly spiritual retreat. He usually listens to the meditations on his knees.

The Holy Father will continue with his private audiences and usual agenda. He has only canceled his visits to Roman parishes. His agenda intensifies starting Palm Sunday, March 24, and for the rest of Holy Week.

The Holy Father plans a pastoral trip to the Italian island of Ischia on May 5, where he would meet a gathering of young people.

Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls told Vatican Radio on Tuesday that the Pope will keep his long-term appointments. The most important are his visit to Toronto in July for World Youth Day, followed by visits to Mexico and Guatemala. A trip to Poland in August is possible.

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