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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05VATICAN456 2005-03-16 18:14:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Vatican
Cable title:  

POPE RETURNS TO VATICAN TO CONTINUE RECUPERATION; WILL KEEP

Tags:   PGOV SOCI VT 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
					UNCLAS VATICAN 000456 

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR EUR/WE LEVIN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV SOCI SOCI VT VTPGOV
SUBJECT: POPE RETURNS TO VATICAN TO CONTINUE RECUPERATION; WILL KEEP
RESTRICTED HOLY WEEK SCHEDULE




1. (U) Pope John Paul II returned to the Vatican in the early
evening of March 13, after spending 18 days in Rome's Gemelli
hospital. The Pontiff underwent a tracheotomy to facilitate his
breathing and subsequent therapy to allow him to speak with a
tube in his throat. Television coverage of his March 11 visit
with two prelates from Tanzania and of his March 13 Angelus
prayer revealed his voice to be weak and raspy; though difficult
to understand, the Pope did not appear to be struggling to
speak. The Holy See went out of its way to release video
footage showing the Pope resuming his duties and participating
in Mass to reinforce the image that he is still in charge.
Despite the Pope's return, the weekly Wednesday audience was
again cancelled, and the extent of the Pope's participation in
upcoming Easter ceremonies -- which will be officially presided
over by senior cardinals -- remains unclear.



2. (SBU) Following the Pope's televised midday Angelus Prayer
March 13, the Vatican took gathered reporters by surprise by
announcing that the Pope would be returning home. Spokesman
Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the John Paul II would "continue his
convalescence" at the Vatican. The tube inserted after his
tracheotomy is still in place and Vatican sources say it will
remain so for some time, and possibly permanently, though it
will be changed monthly. With the risk of infection relatively
high, it is clear that the Pope's public schedule will be
strictly reduced for several weeks, and possibly much longer.
It is unclear whether the Pope will be physically present at the
Holy Week masses. He is currently scheduled to give a simple
blessing on Easter Sunday.



3. (U) As it has been throughout the Pope's hospitalization and
convalescence, media coverage of his release and motorcade from
the hospital to Vatican City State was exhaustive: the Vatican
Television Center had a camera in the rear seat of John Paul
II's vehicle broadcasting a "Pope's eye view" of the
fifteen-minute journey, with Italian and international media
interrupting their regular programming to pick up the live
Vatican feed. The Pope's increasing frailty has all major Rome
media outlets on high alert, many having paid retainers to
reporters and analysts for years to be prepared for a Papal
transition.



4. (SBU) Comment: In the coming weeks, the Vatican will do
everything possible to reassure the Catholic faithful and the
media that Pope John Paul II is still in charge and competent to
run the Church. Senior cardinals already limit their demands on
his time and counsel, presenting him only with business
requiring his attention because of absolute necessity or
urgency. We expect his schedule will remain drastically
reduced, with only heads of state, visiting bishops, and perhaps
incoming ambassadors to have access. At many public events, the
Pope's presence will likely be relayed via live television links.



5. (SBU) At this point in time, there is no indication that the
Pope is affected by a life-threatening health crisis. He
receives excellent medical care and his day-to-day condition is
under constant scrutiny. The Pope has a history, when he has
suffered physical setbacks, of adjusting to the new restrictions
and achieving a new plateau for his level of activity. At the
same time, one cardinal told a journalist this week, "We don't
know whether the Pope will live a week or five years." The
Vatican is also keeping an ambulance at the ready outside the
Apostolic Palace. End comment.

HARDT


NNNN
UNCLAS VATICAN 000456

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR EUR/WE LEVIN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV SOCI SOCI VT VTPGOV
SUBJECT: POPE RETURNS TO VATICAN TO CONTINUE RECUPERATION; WILL KEEP
RESTRICTED HOLY WEEK SCHEDULE



1. (U) Pope John Paul II returned to the Vatican in the early
evening of March 13, after spending 18 days in Rome's Gemelli
hospital. The Pontiff underwent a tracheotomy to facilitate his
breathing and subsequent therapy to allow him to speak with a
tube in his throat. Television coverage of his March 11 visit
with two prelates from Tanzania and of his March 13 Angelus
prayer revealed his voice to be weak and raspy; though difficult
to understand, the Pope did not appear to be struggling to
speak. The Holy See went out of its way to release video
footage showing the Pope resuming his duties and participating
in Mass to reinforce the image that he is still in charge.
Despite the Pope's return, the weekly Wednesday audience was
again cancelled, and the extent of the Pope's participation in
upcoming Easter ceremonies -- which will be officially presided
over by senior cardinals -- remains unclear.



2. (SBU) Following the Pope's televised midday Angelus Prayer
March 13, the Vatican took gathered reporters by surprise by
announcing that the Pope would be returning home. Spokesman
Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the John Paul II would "continue his
convalescence" at the Vatican. The tube inserted after his
tracheotomy is still in place and Vatican sources say it will
remain so for some time, and possibly permanently, though it
will be changed monthly. With the risk of infection relatively
high, it is clear that the Pope's public schedule will be
strictly reduced for several weeks, and possibly much longer.
It is unclear whether the Pope will be physically present at the
Holy Week masses. He is currently scheduled to give a simple
blessing on Easter Sunday.



3. (U) As it has been throughout the Pope's hospitalization and
convalescence, media coverage of his release and motorcade from
the hospital to Vatican City State was exhaustive: the Vatican
Television Center had a camera in the rear seat of John Paul
II's vehicle broadcasting a "Pope's eye view" of the
fifteen-minute journey, with Italian and international media
interrupting their regular programming to pick up the live
Vatican feed. The Pope's increasing frailty has all major Rome
media outlets on high alert, many having paid retainers to
reporters and analysts for years to be prepared for a Papal
transition.



4. (SBU) Comment: In the coming weeks, the Vatican will do
everything possible to reassure the Catholic faithful and the
media that Pope John Paul II is still in charge and competent to
run the Church. Senior cardinals already limit their demands on
his time and counsel, presenting him only with business
requiring his attention because of absolute necessity or
urgency. We expect his schedule will remain drastically
reduced, with only heads of state, visiting bishops, and perhaps
incoming ambassadors to have access. At many public events, the
Pope's presence will likely be relayed via live television links.



5. (SBU) At this point in time, there is no indication that the
Pope is affected by a life-threatening health crisis. He
receives excellent medical care and his day-to-day condition is
under constant scrutiny. The Pope has a history, when he has
suffered physical setbacks, of adjusting to the new restrictions
and achieving a new plateau for his level of activity. At the
same time, one cardinal told a journalist this week, "We don't
know whether the Pope will live a week or five years." The
Vatican is also keeping an ambulance at the ready outside the
Apostolic Palace. End comment.

HARDT


NNNN