Pope's Voice Recorded for 1st Time Since Surgery

Speaks With Tanzanian Cardinal

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 11, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican released a video of John Paul II speaking for the first time since his throat operation Feb. 24.

«Va bene, va bene (All right, all right),» the Pope said today in Italian, with a hoarse but comprehensible voice, to Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.

The Holy Father received the cardinal and Bishop Severine Niwemugizi, president of the African country’s episcopal conference, in an audience on occasion of their five-yearly visit to Rome.

A Mass concelebrated by Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Pope’s secretary, and the Holy Father followed the meeting. Archbishop Dziwisz was the principle celebrant.

At the end of Mass, the cardinal assured the Holy Father of the prayers of the people of Tanzania, to which John Paul responded verbally. The Vatican Television Center filmed the exchange.

The Pope’s voice was also heard, with less clarity, partly because of recording difficulties, when he imparted the final blessing at the Mass.

The Pontiff handed them an address, written in English, in which he appealed in particular for special «care of the family, care of the clergy, and care for the common good of society.»

John Paul II, who was seated in an armchair and was wearing purple Lenten liturgical vestments, spoke for some time with both prelates.

Following his doctors’ advice, the Holy Father is prolonging his stay in the Gemelli Polyclinic for a few more days to «complete his convalescence, which is progressing regularly» since his tracheotomy, Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls said Thursday.

In addition to attending to his work, the Pontiff continues with his voice and breathing exercises.

«I can confirm that the Pope will spend Holy Week in the Vatican,» added the director of the Vatican press office. The next statement on the Pope’s health will by published by the Vatican on Monday.

Every day groups of pilgrims gather outside the Gemelli Hospital to hear news on the Pope’s health. They encourage him with songs and prayers. Today, a group of Sicilian pilgrims sang for some 20 minutes under the Holy Father’s window.

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