John Paul II Continues with Private Audiences

Despite Painful Knee

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 7, 2002 ( The painful, arthritic right knee that forced John Paul II to cancel his appearance at the Wednesday general audience hasn´t kept him from his in-house appointments.

This morning the Holy Father received four Argentine bishops in private audience, as well as apostolic nuncio Archbishop Paolo Giglio, according to the Vatican Press Office.

Cardinal Roberto Tucci, who has overseen the logistics of the Pope´s international trips, told Vatican Radio that John Paul II has no hesitation in disclosing his possible health problems.

The cardinal recalled a meeting John Paul II had with journalists during his flight to Cuba in January 1998.

The reporters said to him: «We would like you to tell us how you are, and not learn it from other sources.» The Pope replied: «To know how he is, the Pope reads the newspapers.»

«It is important to recall that he is the first Pope who has always spoken openly about his problems,» the cardinal told Vatican Radio.

«Moreover, having arthrosis in a knee at his age — at my age, because we are almost contemporaries — is not something that is so exceptional,» he added.

The cardinal, who is also president of Vatican Radio´s Administrative Committee, said he could understand the public´s interest in the Pope´s health. But he criticized those doctors who have expressed judgments on John Paul II´s health to the press, without ever having studied his medical history.

«In any event, the Pope resists, he doesn´t give up,» the cardinal said.

According to Cardinal Tucci, the Pope´s strength lies in prayer. «I am convinced he will not stop until he cannot give anymore, being faithful to his pastoral ministry.»

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