March 31, 2005


Vatican: Pope receives Last Rites (Daily Telegraph 31/03/2005)

Pope John Paul II has received the Last Rites, the Roman Catholic sacrament reserved for the sick and dying.

A Vatican spokesman confirmed reports from the Italian media that the Pontiff, who is suffering from a very high fever caused by a urinary infection, received the sacrament earlier today after doctors inserted a tube in his throat to ease his breathing.

Pilgrims gather for sombre vigil as Pope 'nears the end' (Richard Owen, 4/01/05, Times of London)
DOCTORS were rushed to the Pope’s bedside last night as his condition worsened dramatically and a senior cardinal said that he was “nearing the end”.

Rumours swept Rome that the Pope had been given the sacrament of the infirm (last rites).

Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the chief Vatican spokesman, said that the Pope was suffering from a high temperature caused by a urinary tract infection that was being treated urgently with antibiotics. “The Holy Father today was struck by a high fever caused by a confirmed infection of the urinary tract,” Dr Navarro-Valls said.

“The medical situation is being strictly controlled by the Vatican medical team that is taking care of him.”

Vatican sources denied, however, that the Pope was being transferred to the Gemelli hospital in Rome, where he has already been treated twice since the beginning of February.

Early this morning the Vatican said that the Pope was responding to the antibiotics and his condition had stabilised.

Italian new agencies said that the Pope, 84, was suffering from a high temperature and substantial weight loss. The reports said that doctors had intervened because of a “worrying lowering of blood pressure”.

Overnight the lights were burning in the Pope’s rooms in the third floor of the apostolic apartment above a floodlit St Peter’s Square, which was sealed as pilgrims gathered to keep vigil. Italian television made special late-night broadcasts announcing that the Pope was “seriously ill”.

Pope suffers heart attack (The Age, April 1, 2005)
Pope John Paul II suffered a heart attack and his condition is "very serious", Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said today.

"Following a urinary tract infection, septic shock and a cardiocirculatory collapse occurred," Navarro-Valls said in a statement. [...]

Navarro-Valls said the Pope had been given the Holy Viaticum - communion reserved for those close to death - and had decided himself not to go to hospital for treatment.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 31, 2005 11:59 PM

Perhaps my Catholicism skews my thinking, but this guy is up there with Reagan and Solzhenitsyn as far as administering Last Rites to the Soviets is concerned.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at March 31, 2005 8:39 PM

No, Matt, there's no skewing there. I'm not Catholic and never have been, but I agree 1000% with your estimate of the Pope. Just don't forget that Thatcher deserves at least Honorable Mention.

Posted by: Kirk Parker at April 1, 2005 12:52 AM

The Pope is the leading example of that rara avis for which we are constantly searching, the decent left.

Posted by: David Cohen at April 1, 2005 8:46 AM


In what sense is the Pope a man of the left?

Posted by: Random Lawyer at April 1, 2005 11:30 AM

Vaya con Dios, padre Karol.

Posted by: joe shropshire at April 1, 2005 1:24 PM

"Welcome home, good and faithful servant. Your work is done. Come now, and enjoy the joy of my salvation."

Posted by: "God" at April 1, 2005 1:43 PM

Random: The Pope's policies, as expressed in his encyclical letters and speeches are solidly left-of-center (for the US) in social, economic and foreign policy. The obvious exceptions are a strong anti-communism, though that used to be a feature of the moderate left, and abortion, in which the US is the outlier.

Posted by: David Cohen at April 1, 2005 2:56 PM