Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Night 54° Clear
News >  Nation/World

Convalescing pope seen briefly by young visitors


Pope John Paul II touches his forehead during a live video link Thursday to hundreds of young people who filled Rome's St. John at the Lateran Basilica in Rome for a meeting. 
 (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Pope John Paul II touches his forehead during a live video link Thursday to hundreds of young people who filled Rome's St. John at the Lateran Basilica in Rome for a meeting. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Victor L. Simpson Associated Press

ROME – A gaunt-looking Pope John Paul II appeared in a live video Thursday evening to hundreds of young people who filled a Rome basilica to show their support and express hope that the ailing pontiff will travel to a World Youth Day event in Germany this summer.

In a brief appearance that lasted less than a minute, the 84-year-old pope made the sign of the cross to the crowd, which erupted into cheering. At one point, John Paul covered his eyes with a hand, and the live video signal cut out.

The pope, dressed in white vestments, did not speak during the video.

The use of television and video has become more important to John Paul’s papacy as the pope battles with his ailments and the Vatican seeks to reassure the world’s more than 1 billion Roman Catholic faithful that he is alert and in command of the church.

“We’ll see you in Cologne,” said one of the speakers in reference to the German city that will host the church’s youth celebration in mid-August. The trip is John Paul’s only scheduled foreign event of the year, a pilgrimage that has always been particularly important to him.

The prayer service in St. John Lateran Basilica was presided over by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the pope’s vicar for Rome, who read a message from John Paul saying: “I know you always feel close to me and never tire of praying for me. I greet you and thank you from the heart.”

John Paul is convalescing at the Vatican following his release from Rome’s Gemelli Polyclinic hospital on Sunday.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.