Australian cardinal defends Pope's fitness for the job
Asked about Pope John Paul II's health, Cardinal Edward Cassidy told the Australian Associated Press recently that "the Pope is a bit weak, and his knee hurts him, but his heart and mind are strong."
Some newspapers have gone so far as to say that the Holy Father is increasingly ill and that he has left the reins of the Church 's government in the hands of his closest collaborators. He turns 82 in May.
The cardinal is former president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. A close collaborator of the Pope 's for many years, Cardinal Cassidy gave this report to the AAP agency after having dined recently with the Holy Father.
"If you were at the table with me that evening, and we were just together, the Holy Father and myself and his two secretaries, you would not say he was unwell, because, you know, there was a very interesting conversation and he had no problems from that point of view," Cardinal Cassidy said.
"But, of course, when you see him and the difficulty he has to walk, especially now with that knee, which is causing him problems from the point of view of walking but (also) a lot of pain, the body certainly is very fragile," he added.
Despite the Pope 's physical problems, Cardinal Cassidy stressed his "very strong heart" and "very strong mind, behind that weak body."
John Paul II, in fact, has numerous daily public engagements. And added to these are his private meetings which, more often than not, are longer and more numerous than the public ones.
19 Apr 2002