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Vatican denies Pope retirement report

The Vatican yesterday denied a report that Pope John Paul, who is in frail health, would announce in August that he will step down.

Chief spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls was responding to a Czech media report that was picked up by Polish television.

The Czech report, citing Polish church sources, said the 82-year-old Pope would announce his retirement during a trip to his Polish homeland at the end of August.

"There is a full schedule for the next six months, which includes various ceremonies, visits to the Vatican by bishops, and other items," Navarro-Valls said.

"This schedule is being filled out with more items for 2003," he added. There has been growing speculation, including among some Catholic cardinals, that the Pope may one day decide to step down for health reasons if he feels he is no longer able to run the Church.

The last time a Pope retired instead of ruling for life was some 700 years ago.


6 Jun 2002