John Paul II Lucid and Serene

Pope Is Aware of Gravity of Situation

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 1, 2005 ( John Paul II’s state of health is «very grave,» although he is «lucid» and «serene,» said the Vatican.

The Pope’s health worsened suddenly on Thursday afternoon when, because of an «infection of the urinary tract, septic shock set in with cardio-circulatory collapse,» said Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls today to the press.

«The situation at this moment is stable,» he said. «The conditions of notable gravity continue. The biological parameters are altered. Arterial pressure is unstable. The Pope continues to be lucid, fully conscious, and I must say he is very serene,» he added.

The Pope is aware of the gravity of his situation, and «asked if it was strictly necessary to go to the hospital,» reported the spokesman. The doctors guaranteed «complete assistance» in the Vatican, and the Pope decided to stay in his apartment.

John Paul II «is being assisted by his personal physician, Dr. Renato Buzzonetti, by two specialists in resuscitation, by a cardiologist, by an ear, nose and throat specialist, and by two nurses.»

The spokesman said that the Pope concelebrated Mass from his bed today in the morning.

«He requested that the fourteen stations of the Via Crucis be read to him. He followed with attention the reading of the texts and I saw him do the sign of the cross in each one of them during the reading of the texts,» continued the spokesman.

After the third hour of the Liturgy of the Hours was read to the Holy Father, he received some of his collaborators in his room, reported Navarro Valls.

Those who visited him were Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state; Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute of the Secretariat of State; Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar for the diocese of Rome; Cardinal Edmund Szoka, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State; Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals; Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, Vatican secretary for relations with states; and Archbishop Paolo Sardi, vice chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church.

At the end of the morning, the Pope «requested that texts of passages of Holy Scripture be read to him,» said Navarro Valls, who announced that the Vatican Press Office would remain open all night to report on the status of the Pope’s health.

Navarro Valls, showing emotion when asked how he was living these moments, responded: «It is, of course, an image that I have not seen before in these twenty-six years: the Pope lucid, and extraordinarily serene, naturally, with relative breathing difficulty. A new image.»

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