Friday, October 17, 2003

Cardinal George Adds to Speculation

About the declining health of the Pope and specifically his lungs and ability to breathe.

From George saddened visit with pontiff 'might be the last':

"As the prince of the church bowed to kiss the hand of the old man who sits on the papal throne, he had a terrible thought.

'Is this the last time I'll see him?' Cardinal Francis George wondered.
'I've never seen him like this. It was touching,' Chicago's cardinal-archbishop said Thursday night a few minutes after the mass in St. Peter's Square celebrating Pope John Paul II's 25th anniversary as pontiff. 'I hadn't seen him in seven months or so, and when he tried to talk it was really sorrowful.'

Earlier in the day, George had greeted the 83-year-old pope personally in a meeting with about 150 other cardinals where John Paul II released a document about the ministry of bishops.
'If you can't walk, well, that's an inconvenience. Even if you can't express yourself, you could write. But if you can't breathe ...' the cardinal said, his thoughts drifting off as he chatted in a parlor of the Pontifical North American College on a hill above St. Peter's. As George talked about his latest encounter with the man the Italians know as 'Il Papa,' it seemed as if the cardinal was realizing that some of the rumors about his beloved pope's failing health, the ones that have been screaming across the headlines of newspapers around the world for the last year, may be true. Horribly true.

'There is reason to worry,' George said. 'He did take a turn for the worse, evidently, in the summer.'"