Friday, February 25, 2005

Vatican officials say the pope has been readmited to hospital

Pope John Paul II has been re-admitted to Rome's Gemelli Hospital with a relapse of influenza which saw him hospitalised earlier this month.

He was wheeled into Gemelli Hospital on a partially elevated stretcher, and was waving to people as he entered the clinic.

Later, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro Valls announced that the pope had undergone a tracheotomy to assist his breathing.

The Pope's re-admittance again raises questions about how long his papacy will last. One of his close aides refused to rule out the possibility of the Pope retiring saying it was up to his "conscience". The Pope has recently indicated that he has no intention of retiring by saying that the call "to guard his flock" was "particularly alive in him".

The operation lasted around thirty minutes, and Navarro Valls said to media that it was a success.