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Pope's friend says he's good for another five years

Vatican sources have denounced as a 'lie' the content of a Washington Post feature highlighting concerns over John Paul II's health.

The article appeared Tuesday, on the 23rd anniversary of the Pope's election.

"It's all a big lie," Monsignor Michael Dylag, a Polish-American who knows the Pope well, told the online edition of the magazine Inside the Vatican.

"I was in the Pope's apartment last Saturday for a visit and what the Washington Post said about the Pope 'riding around in a cart' is not true at all," the monsignor said.

The Post reported that John Paul II "travels the long palatial halls not by foot but by electric cart".

But Monsignor Dylag, creator of the Polish Heritage Room in the new John Paul II Cultural Centre in Washington, DC, said that last Saturday the Pope walked up to the roof above the papal apartments without even using a cane.

"He walks everywhere, including daily when getting into the car to go to the synod," the monsignor said.

Zenit reports that others have backed up the argument. Several bishops, who had lunch with the Pope on Thursday, reported that he was physically fine, jumping back and forth between languages and "very engaged in the conversation."

Monsignor Dylag, a personal friend of the Pope who sees him several times a year, responded: "The way they talk, it's like he's dying tomorrow. Knowing the Pope and his current condition, I think he will live another five years."

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