Pope, Looking Frail, Appears at Window

In Silence, He Blesses the Crowds in St. Peter’s Square

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 23, 2005 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II appeared at his apartment window for a few moments to silently greet the thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

The Pope’s frail state was evident, yet his appearance today served to overcome the alarm generated by media reports Tuesday that said he would be re-hospitalized.

The Holy Father is convalescing after his Feb. 24 throat operation.

John Paul II, who blessed the crowd several times, was received with applause and cries of support from the crowds that were on hand despite the cancellation of the midweek general audience.

The Pontiff’s face seemed rigid and pained, but he did manage to smile. Large video screens have been set up in St. Peter’s Square to give a better glimpse of him.

Many of the faithful were the Pope’s fellow countrymen, among them a group with a poster in Polish which read: «Thank you for the book ‘Memory and Identity.'» Another group identified itself as a contingent from the Catholic University of Lublin.

John Paul II has not spoken in public since March 13, when he addressed a brief greeting from the Gemelli Polyclinic on the last day of his hospitalization.

He appeared at his window on Palm Sunday, but also in silence. The previous Thursday he was seen on video during a meeting of young people in Rome. At times his suffering was evident.

Rodolfo Proietti, head of the team of physicians who looked after the Pope at the Gemelli, said Tuesday that «no hospitalization is foreseen for John Paul II.»

The Holy See has not announced if the Holy Father will participate in the Easter triduum. A television circuit has been installed in his room so that he can follow the rites on television and, if necessary, to impart his blessing.

The Pope is scheduled to impart his traditional blessing to the world on Easter Sunday.

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