VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 30, 2003 ( Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, one of John Paul II's closest advisers, recently asked the faithful to pray for the ailing 83-year-old Pope.

"He is in a bad way," the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith told Germany's Bunte magazine. "We should pray for the Pope."

The comments were made Sept. 22, a day before the Holy Father came down with an intestinal ailment that caused him to miss his general audience last week, the Associated Press said.

The cardinal's comments fueled fresh speculation in the media about the Holy Father's health. But the Holy See said today that the Pope will hold his traditional general audience on Wednesday and will canonize three saints this Sunday as planned.

John Paul II finished his normal commitments today, receiving four Philippine bishops in audience during their five-yearly visit to Rome. He also met the apostolic nuncio to Libya, Archbishop Felix del Blanco Prieto.

"The Supreme Pontiff will celebrate his weekly general audience tomorrow in St. Peter's Square and we also confirm that he will celebrate Mass on Sunday for the canonization of three blessed," papal spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls said in a statement.