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Pope thanks faithful for their prayers


"I bring you the greetings of the Pope, who thanks you for your affection and your fervent prayer," said Archbishop Franc Rode, relaying a message from Pope John Paul II thanking the faithful for the prayers that have been poured out on his behalf since he was hospitalised on Tuesday.

Archbishop Rode, the prefect of the Congregation for Consecrated Life, passed on the Pope's message during his homily as he celebrated Mass in the Vatican basilica for the annual Day for Consecrated Life.

Archbishop Rode presided at that Mass in place of the Holy Father. He added that the Pontiff "is with us in prayer, and sends his blessing" to the religious assembled in St. Peter's for the ceremony.

Catholic News Service reports that the swelling in Pope John Paul II's throat, which made it difficult for him to breathe, is diminishing, and he has not had any more episodes of the voice-box spasms that led to his hospitalization Feb. 1, a Vatican spokesman said.

"The general and respiratory conditions of the Holy Father have shown a positive change," Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the spokesman, said in a statement yesterday. "The acute laryngeal tracheitis is in a phase of regression, and there have been no repeats of the episodes of laryngeal spasms, which motivated his urgent hospitalisation," the statement continued.

"The Holy Father rested peacefully throughout the night," the spokesman said.

The Pope's wellwishers included a group of students from Sydney's St Ignatius College (pictured), who serenaded him outside Rome's Gemelli hospital.

"We were meant to go to the [Pope's] general audience this morning but it was cancelled, so we've come here to sing for him and pray," said 17-year-old Tyron, alongside about 20 friends from the school.

Though they got no closer than the front gate, they formed into a semi-circle in their blue jackets and began singing the British band's anthem.

It contains the chorus: "Because maybe, you're gonna be the one who saves me, and after all, you're my wonderwall."

Meanwhile speculation on the implications of the Pope's future poor health prospects has focused on the question of papal retirement, despite the fact that it has been ruled out on several occations.

The Australian and other newspaper report today that according to senior church sources, cardinals have discussed among themselves the need to choose a future pontiff who is open to a retirement age, probably 80.

"They do not want a repeat of the past few years, when the ill-health of Pope John Paul II, now 84, has forced him to take an increasingly light role in directing the church, responsible for the spiritual welfare of 1.1 billion believers."

The report suggests the church has "in effect been run by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger .. whose nickname is John Paul III" but "is considered too old, at 77, to succeed him."

SOURCE
Pope thanks faithful for their prayers (Catholic World News 4/2/05)
Vatican says pope rests peacefully as throat swelling diminishes (Catholic News Service 3/2/05)
Church calls halt to popes for life (The Australian/Herald-Sun/agencies 4/2/05)
Aust students sing 'Wonderwall' for Pope (ABC/AFP 3/2/05)

ARCHIVE
Media makes big deal of Pope's 'little fever' (CathNews 3/2/05)
Pope urges improved screening for seminarians (CathNews 2/2/05)
Flu-stricken Pope lies low (CathNews 1/2/05)
Recalcitrant peace dove refuses to leave papal apartment (CathNews 31/1/05)
Pope's Lenten message urges respect for elderly (CathNews 28/1/05)

MORE POPE STORIES
At Gemelli Hospital, a forest of tripods, antennas and well-wishers (Catholic News Service 2/2/05)
Pope returns to Gemelli Hospital for seventh time in 26th years (Catholic News Service 2/2/05)
Pope's Doctors on Guard for Complications (Associated Press/ABC America 4/2/05)
Pope Better; Vatican Hopes for Weekend Audience (Reuters 4/2/05)
Pope improving, but could remain in hospital until middle of next week (AFP/Yahoo 4/2/05)
Pope's condition stabalises, will remain in hospital (Irish Times 2/2/05)
Cardinals mull papal retirement at 80 (Big News Network 3/2/05)
Media circus erupts around Pope (BBC 4/2/05)
Vatican wheels still turning (BBC 4/2/05)
Turk who tried to kill pope sends wishes (Associated Press/SeattlePI.com 4/2/05)
Pope's health stabilises (ABC Radio AM 4/2/05)
Calls for Pope to consider stepping down (ABC Radio PM 4/2/05)
Pope John Paul recovers in hospital (ABC Radio The World Today 4/2/05)
Pope's second night in hospital goes well (AsiaNews.it 4/2/05)
Pope John Paul II: Add your prayers for the restored health of Pope John Paul II (Beliefnet)
Flu-Stricken Pope Celebrates Mass, Will Stay in Hospital a `Few More Days' (Beliefnet 2/2/05)
U.S. church leaders ask for prayers for hospitalized pope (Catholic News Service 2/2/05)
Pneumonia seen as key concern in pope's illness (Catholic News Service 2/2/05)
Vatican calls Pope's condition "positive" (Catholic News Agency 4/2/05)
Pope's biographer optimistic of recovery (Catholic News Agency 4/2/05)
Pope says organ transplants must "guarantee respect for life and for the human person" (Catholic News Agency 4/2/05)
Good news tonic for Pope (Catholic Weekly 6/2/05)
Pope's condition stabilized; will remain in hospital (Catholic World News 4/2/05)
The Forum: Background: the Pope's previous hospital trips (Catholic World News 4/2/05)
Pope's condition improving (Catholic World News 4/2/05)
Eucharist as center of religious life (Catholic World News 4/2/05)
Prayers without panic in St Peter's Square (The Guardian/Associated Press 4/2/05)
Pope's Hospital Is Crammed With Faithful (The Guardian/Associated Press 4/2/05)
Vatican: Pope Responding Well to Treatment (The Guardian/Associated Press 4/2/05)
Pope's Breathing Improves at Hospital (The Guardian/Associated Press 4/2/05)
Major Medical Problems the Pope Has Faced (The Herald-Sun Durham North Carolina/Associated Press 4/2/05)
Pope's Breathing Improves at Hospital (The Herald-Sun Durham North Carolina/Associated Press 4/2/05)
Parkinson's Aggravates Pope's Illness (The Herald-Sun Durham North Carolina/Associated Press 2/2/05)
Key Dates in Life of Pope John Paul II (The Herald-Sun Durham North Carolina/Associated Press 4/2/05)
Pope's Hospital Is Crammed With Faithful (The Herald-Sun Durham North Carolina/Associated Press 2/2/05)
Vatican Workings Depend on Bureacracy (The Herald-Sun Durham North Carolina/Associated Press 2/2/05)
Papal Succession May Be Wide-Open Race (The Herald-Sun Durham North Carolina/Associated Press 2/2/05)
Vatican breathes easy over health scare (Herald-Sun 4/2/05)
Pope home soon (Herald-Sun 4/2/05)
Latest on Pope John Paul (Independent Catholic News/VIS/Scottish Catholic Media Office 4/2/05)
John Paul's Condition Stabilizes, but He Will Remain Hospitalized (Los Angeles Times 3/2/05)
Hope for the Pope (London Daily Mirror 3/2/05)
Vatican spokesman: Pope's condition improving (Missionary Service News Agency 4/2/05)
Church calls halt to popes for life (The Australian 4/2/05)
Man who tried to kill Pope wishes him 'speedy recovery' (New York Daily News/AP 3/2/05)
Pope Second Night in Hospital Calm -- Italy State TV (Reuters 4/2/05)
Tourists at St Peter's Sympathize with Absent Pope (Reuters 2/2/05)
Health problems raise moral issues for Vatican (Sydney Morning Herald 4/2/05)
Pope's condition is improving, Vatican says (Sydney Morning Herald 4/2/05)
Pope's medical history (Sydney Morning Herald 2/2/05)
John Paul becomes schoolboys' audience (Sydney Morning Herald 4/2/05)
Pope's condition is improving, Vatican says (Sydney Morning Herald 4/2/05)
Pope's condition improving (The Age 4/2/05)
Pope's illness no longer acute (The Australian 4/2/05)
Pope may leave hospital within days (The Australian/AFP 3/2/05)
Church calls halt to popes for life (The Australian 4/2/05)
Vatican breathes easy over health scare (The Mercury 4/2/05)
Cardinals draw up secret plan for future Popes to retire at 80 (Irish Independent 3/2/05)
The secret of spiritual ardor is the eucharist (Vatican Information Service 4/2/05)
Pope's Medical Condition Stabilizes (Zenit 2/2/05)
"No Reason for Alarm," Says Spokesman (Zenit 2/2/05)
Illness in John Paul II's Teaching and Experience (Zenit 2/2/05)
From Afar, Pleas for Prayers for John Paul II (Zenit 2/2/05)

4 Feb 2005