March 6, 2005 in Nation/World

Pope, showing more activity, to give blessing today

Associated Press

VATICAN CITY – Pope John Paul II met with a top cardinal and sent messages to students and Italy’s premier Saturday, reinforcing the Vatican’s portrayal of a pope who is alert and attending to church business even as he recovers from his latest health crisis.

The Vatican said the frail, 84-year-old pontiff again would give a silent blessing today from a window of Rome’s Gemelli Polyclinic hospital, where he is getting breathing and speech therapy after Feb. 24 throat surgery to ease his second respiratory crisis in a month.

“John Paul II will join the Angelus prayer from his hospital room, and at the end he will bless the faithful present at Gemelli Polyclinic the same way as last Sunday,” said papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls.

John Paul made a surprise window appearance at the hospital a week ago, waving and giving the sign of the cross to cheering pilgrims gathered beneath his 10th-floor suite.

Navarro-Valls said Archbishop Leonardo Sandri – an Argentine from the Holy See’s secretary of state office who has become the pope’s official voice for the public – would read out the traditional weekly prayer known as the Angelus and deliver a blessing to believers at St. Peter’s Square.

When he is well, the pope addresses the faithful from a window overlooking the square.

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