Pope's Ailment Not Seen as Serious, Says Vatican Spokesman

Navarro-Valls Indicates Papal Agenda Won't Change for Now

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 24, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II's spokesman downplayed the intestinal ailment that prevented the Pope from attending today's general audience.



"[It] is simply an intestinal indisposition which, moreover, has not been considered as something grave or too serious," said Joaquín Navarro-Valls, director of the Vatican press office. "However, as is normal, the Pope's personal doctor advised him not to come to the Wednesday audience."

"The Pope did not spend the morning in bed," Navarro-Valls added. "Among other things, he sent a message which was seen on television: The Pope was in his chapel in Castel Gandolfo and greeted the pilgrims."

Navarro-Valls confirmed on Vatican Radio that "the whole program of activities of the Holy Father, which from now on is quite intense, remains unaltered for the time being."

The Pope's agenda indicates he is due to return to the Vatican on Friday from the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo. On Saturday, he is scheduled to preside at a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica for the repose of the souls of Popes Paul VI and John Paul I.

On Oct. 7, John Paul II is scheduled to go to the Shrine of the Virgin of Pompeii, near Naples, where he will pray the rosary for world peace.

Also scheduled are the celebrations for the 25th anniversary of his pontificate, which will culminate on Oct. 19 with the beatification of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

"So, quite an intense program in which, for the time being, there is no change," Navarro-Valls stressed.

The Vatican spokesman ended by recalling Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano's invitation to pray for the Pope. Navarro-Valls added that from the "information I have been given by the Pope's doctor, these prayers can be said with calmness."