Pope Back Home From the Hospital

Spokesman Relays Words of Gratitude

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 10, 2005 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II returned to the Vatican, more than a week after suffering breathing spasms that left him hospitalized.

His return in the popemobile was broadcast today on television. The doctors’ decision to discharge the Pope from the Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome was announced at midday by Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls.

«The acute laryngeal tracheitis, which was the reason for urgently admitting the Holy Father to the hospital, has healed,» reported the spokesman in a statement. The ailment was related to the flu the Pope was suffering.

«The improvement of his general condition continues favorably,» added the statement, explaining that «over the last two days, all diagnostic exams, including a CT scan, excluded other pathologies.»

«The Pope has decided to send a letter of thanks to all the people who have taken care of him during these days: doctors, sisters, nurses, technicians and aides,» said Navarro Valls.

According to the note, the Holy Father wished to express his gratitude particularly to «Rodolfo Proietti, professor of anesthesiology and director of the emergency ward, who coordinated the medical team, assisted by professor Massimo Antonelli; professor Gaetano Paludetti, an ear, nose and throat specialist; and Filippo Crea, professor of cardiology.»

In subsequent statements on Vatican Radio, Navarro Valls said that the Pope, «although obeying the doctors, was impatient to return to the Vatican and attend as soon as possible to his agenda of future appointments.»

According to the Vatican spokesman, what helped the Pope very much was the closeness of well-wishers — including young people who sang under his hospital window Wednesday — as well as the messages and prayers he received.

«In regard to his activity, one can say that it was not interrupted, as when it was necessary to bring an issue to his attention, it was done through the cardinal secretary of state,» continued the spokesman.

«Now, when he returns, the Holy Father will look at his agenda and decide if he has to change anything,» Navarro Valls said. «I think, however, that insofar as possible, the Pope’s desire is to take up the appointments he had scheduled for these days and which have been postponed for some days.»

On Friday, the Church will observe the World Day of the Sick. It is a holiday in the Vatican, to mark the anniversary of the signing of the Lateran Pacts and the institution of Vatican City State, in 1929.

The main celebrations of the World Day of the Sick will be held in Yaounde, Cameroon.

John Paul II and officials of the Roman Curia are scheduled to begin their annual Spiritual Exercises this Sunday afternoon. The retreat would last until Feb. 19. The Pope usually suspends his audiences during those days.

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