VATICAN CITY, MARCH 3, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Less than a week after his tracheotomy, John Paul II is scheduling daily meetings in the Gemelli Polyclinic with his aides.
“John Paul II is very anxious to return to the Vatican, but accepts the doctors’ decisions,” explained Joaquín Navarro Valls, director of the Vatican press office, after today reading the latest statement on the Pope’s health.
“There is no incompatibility between both things,” the spokesman said. “The Pope is calm, as he is beginning to follow from the hospital the activities of the Holy See, receiving the secretary of state, the cardinals responsible for dicasteries, as he usually did in the Vatican.”
Navarro Valls continued: “The health of the Holy Father John Paul II continues to improve and show progress. As previously stated, the Pope is eating regularly and spends several hours each day in an armchair.”
“The surgical wound is healing,” he explained, in reference to last Thursday’s tracheotomy. “Daily sessions for rehabilitation of breathing and speaking continue, with the active collaboration of the Holy Father.”
The Vatican spokesman said that, unless there are new developments, the “next statement on the Pope’s health will be issued on Monday, March 7, at 12:30 p.m.”
Today, the Vatican press office announced the two latest episcopal appointments made by the Pope — one for Burlington, Vermont, the other for Mazatlan, Mexico — and a papal message addressed to the plenary assembly of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.
Normally, the Pope meets at least once a week with each of the cardinals or archbishops who hold posts of special responsibility in the Vatican. These meetings are now being held in the Gemelli Polyclinic.
On Wednesday, the Pontiff met there with the substitute of the Vatican Secretariat of State, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri. On Monday, he plans to meet with the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano. On Friday he will receive, for the second time this week, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Over the rest of this week, John Paul II will meet with Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, as well as other officials.
The Pope has labeled the Gemelli “Vatican III,” in reference to his other two residences, the Vatican and the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome.
Navarro Valls said that it is too early to know when the Pope will leave the hospital.
“It is possible that it will be before Easter, but I would not like to give a hypothetical date,” he said.
Regarding Holy Week, which starts March 20, the spokesman said: “The Easter calendar is being adhered to” as in previous years.
“What must be planned and what the Pope will have to decide is, in what way he will participate in these ceremonies,” he noted. “The ways he will participate will be studied after his return to the Vatican.”
Navarro Valls explained that while John Paul II is hospitalized, he is praying in a small chapel installed next to his room on the 10th floor of the Gemelli, “where he requests to be taken every day.”
The spokesman said that he writes the statements on the Pontiff’s health with the doctors who are treating him at the hospital, with the coordination of the Holy Father’s personal physician, Dr. Renato Buzzonetti.