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Pope's looks stronger at Wednesday audience

In contrast to his frail health during last week's Slovakia trip, Pope John Paul II looked much stronger at his weekly general audience yesterday.

Although his voice trembled at times, he had enough strength to have his picture taken with visitors for 45 minutes afterwards.

During his four-day trip to Slovakia, which ended on Sunday, aides had to read most of his speeches to crowds after he had difficulty pronouncing words and appeared very weak and distant.

Observers suggested his overall condition made it painfully clear that his Parkinson's disease had progressed. There is increasing speculation on the question of how the Vatican will deal with the situation of a Pope who can no longer communicate.

The pope has bounced back from spates of frailness before. Last May in Spain he looked better than he had in years.

The Vatican has prepared a packed schedule for the month of October, when the pope will mark his 25th anniversary and there is no indication yet that any of the events, which include a day trip to an Italian shrine city, will be scaled back.

The Vatican has yet to confirm any foreign trips for 2004.


General Audience of John Paul II (Wednesday, 17 September 2003)
Will John Paul II Still Travel? It's Up to Him, Says Aide (Zenit)
Pope reflects on his visit to Slovakia (Catholic World News)

18 Sep 2003