Pope's health is improving, Vatican says

March 04, 2005|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

ROME - The health of Pope John Paul II, who has not been seen in public for four days, continues to improve, the Vatican said yesterday. But the ailing pontiff might miss ceremonies leading up to Easter, the most important holiday on the Christian calendar.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls declined to say when the pope would be released from the hospital, where a week ago he underwent an emergency operation to insert a breathing tube in his neck.

Navarro-Valls, speaking to reporters after issuing an update on the pontiff's condition, said it was also unclear what role Pope John Paul would play in the hectic week of Masses and services that begin Palm Sunday, March 20, and culminate in Easter the next Sunday.

It is Christianity's most solemn period and even under normal circumstances creates a taxing schedule for the leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

"The pope must decide, once he has returned, the way he will participate in these ceremonies," Navarro-Valls said. "But at the moment, nothing has been decided."

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