John Paul II Due Out of Hospital by Palm Sunday

According to Vatican Spokesman

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 10, 2005 ( John Paul II will leave the hospital before March 20, Palm Sunday, to spend Holy Week in the Vatican, says the Holy See’s spokesman.

«The Holy Father, following the advice of his doctors, will extend his stay in the A. Gemelli Polyclinic by a few more days, in order to complete his convalescence which is progressing regularly,» Joaquín Navarro Valls, director of the Vatican press office, said today.

«I can confirm that the Pope will spend Holy Week in the Vatican,» he added.

John Paul II is recovering from a tracheotomy operation Feb. 24 to relieve breathing problems.

Navarro Valls revealed that next Sunday the Pope will participate in the Angelus «the same way he did on the two preceding» occasions.

On those occasions, the Holy Father appeared at the window to wave at pilgrims, after Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute of the Vatican Secretariat of State, addressed some words from St. Peter’s Square and pronounced the apostolic blessing in the Pope’s name.

Asked by journalists if the Holy Father can speak with the tube that was inserted during a tracheotomy, Navarro Valls answered, «Of course, he speaks.»

However, the Vatican spokesman could not confirm if the Pontiff will speak at this Sunday’s Angelus.

«It was not anticipated that he would appear at the window yesterday, and he did,» Navarro Valls said. «He surprised me.»

John Paul II appeared at his hospital window Wednesday to greet pilgrims gathered outside the hospital.

Navarro Valls confirmed that the Holy Father is receiving his aides during these days to keep up with the life of the Holy See and the Church. On Wednesday, he received Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and Archbishop Sandri.

The Vatican spokesman plans to publish the next statement on the Pope’s health on Monday.

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