The Vatican: Pope suffers from congestive heart failure

Friday, April 1, 2005

According to the Vatican, the medical condition of Pope John Paul II is very grave, and reports indicate that during today's treatment his heart momentarily stopped beating.

The pope has been undergoing treatment for a urinary infection, and yesterday developed a high fever. He has been breathing through a tube in his throat, and a feeding tube was inserted as the pope was having trouble swallowing.

Earlier, news organizations reported that the pope received the sacrament for the sick and dying — commonly known as last rites. The Vatican today confirmed this. These rites are administered to those close to death, but may also be administered to those very sick, and may be repeated if necessary. The pope has previously received last rites after an assassination attempt on his life in 1981.

The latest malady to affect the pope — the urinary infection — is treatable with antibiotics, and according to a Vatican spokesperson the pope was responding well to such treatment. Some physicians fear that a failure in one system may "cascade" to a failure in other organs, further deteriorating the 84-year-old pope's health.

Some Italian newspapers have already claimed the Pope is dead, which the Vatican has denied.