Vatican, Feb. 24 (CWNews.com) – Pope John Paul II (bio – news) has been hospitalized once again.
The Holy Father, who was released from Gemelli Hospital on February 10 after a 9-day stay caused by respiratory problems, returned to the hospital in the morning of February 24.
Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said that the Pope “showed signs of a relapse of the flu syndrome which had affected him” earlier in the month. He said that the Pope was hospitalized for “specialized treatment and for further tests.”
The flu symptoms began to return on Wednesday afternoon, February 23, Navarro-Valls told reporters. The decision that the Pope should return to the hospital was made at mid-morning on Thursday.
The Pontiff had been hospitalized hurriedly on February 1, when the flu flared up, causing him severe difficulty in breathing. After treatment, the respiratory problems eased, and the Pope seemed to be recovering from the flu when he returned to the Vatican on February 10.
However, officials were taking extra precautions to protect the Pontiff’s health. John Paul II had sharply cut back his schedule; for the first time in his 26-year pontificate he did not attend the Lenten Retreat at the Vatican, following the proceedings by closed-circuit television instead. On February 23, in another unprecedented move, the Pope addressed his regular weekly public audience by television, sitting in the library of his apartments rather than coming to the window, as expected, to greet the crowd.
Nevertheless, Vatican officials had expected the Pontiff to resume public activities this week. He met on February 22 with Croatian President Ivo Sanader, and he was expected to preside at a consistory of cardinals on February 24, for a vote on candidates for canonization.
When Pope John Paul failed to appear for that consistory, which took place late in the morning, his absence revived the fears of journalists covering the event. (Cardinal Angelo Sodano (bio – news), the Vatican Secretary of State, presided in the Pope’s place.) Shortly after that late-morning meeting, Navarro-Valls revealed that the Pope had returned to the hospital.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â CWNews.