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Papal secretary backs Ratzinger "bad way" assessment

Following Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's widely reported comment that Pope John Paul II is "in a bad way", the Holy Father's private secretary Georg Gaenswein said yesterday that he could not walk or stand.

"He is a hero for the faithful," Mr Gaenswein said. "The fact he doesn't give up despite his illness makes him even more credible ... When he is no longer allowed to travel, then dear God will come for him."

Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn of Vienna, one of Europe's most respected cardinals, added his voice to the negative reports on the Pope's health by suggesting that Pope John Paul II is nearing "the last days and months of his life",

"The entire world is experiencing a Pope who is sick, who is disabled and who is dying - I don't know how near death he is - who is approaching the last days and months of his life," Schoenborn told the Austrian state broadcaster ORF.

Schoenborn is considered a possible candidate for the papacy. His spokesman, Erich Leitenberger, later said that the comments were "to be interpreted philosophically".

The Vatican, which generally refrains from commenting on the Pope's health, declined to respond to the Austrian cardinal's remarks.

The Australian
The Australian

Pope, at general audience, says he'll make next trip, 'God willing' (AP)
Papal guessing game (The Mercury)
Pope nearing 'last days' of his life - Cardinal (Ananova)
Pope determined not to cut back on his schedule (AP/Chicago Sun-Times)
The October consistory: schedule and background (Catholic World News)
Pope's secretary, spokesman seek to ease health concerns (Catholic World News)
Leading Cardinal Says Pope in 'Last Days' (AP)
Consistory for the creation of 30 new cardinals (Vatican Information Service)
African touted as Pope's successor (Herald-Sun)
Cheers and tears for ailing Pope (The Guardian)
Analysis: 'Detoxified' pope (UPI)
Feature: dead pope will not be hammered (UPI)
Austrian cardinal says Pope is facing 'last days' (Catholic World News)

3 Oct 2003