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Pope out of hospital

Pope John Paul II left his Rome hospital in his white popemobile around 5:30 am this morning Sydney time, 10 days after suffering breathing spasms that left him bedridden and rekindled debate about his ability to continue leading the Church.

Under heavy security, the Holy Father was bundled into the vehicle inside a covered entrance to Rome's Gemelli Polyclinic to shield him from the winter chill. Police sealed off St. Peter's Square to tourists, and hundreds of cheering Romans lined the route to the Vatican.

The Pope waved to the crowds and blessed the faithful standing along the 4 km route to the Vatican. His return was broadcast live on television.

The bulletproof popemobile is equipped with a hydraulic lift, which makes it easier for the pontiff, who walks with difficulty, to get into than a limousine.

Papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said that the frail pope had recovered completely from the breathing crisis that led to his urgent hospitalisation on Tuesday last week, and his general condition continued to improve.

Navarro-Valls said a battery of tests, including a CT scan, had ruled out any new illnesses.

"When he gets back to the Vatican he will look over and decide with his doctors what his appointments will be," Navarro-Valls said.

John Paul also planned to send a thank-you note to the doctors and nurses who attended him, the spokesman said.

John Paul's hospitalization forced him to skip the Ash Wednesday ritual in St. Peter's Basilica for the first time in his 26-year papacy.

Doctors at Gemelli never publicly discussed the pope's condition, but the Vatican press office issued its own medical bulletin every few days describing his continued improvement. His doctors persuaded him to prolong his hospitalisation just to be on the safe side.

'Cured' pope leaves Rome hospital (Associated Press/Oregon Live 10/2/05)

Pope distributes ashes to doctors in hospital room Mass (CathNews 10/2/05)
Vatican No. 2 says resignation a matter for Pope's conscience (CathNews 8/2/05)
Recovering Pope makes public appearance (CathNews 7/2/05)
Pope thanks faithful for their prayers (CathNews 4/2/05)
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)

'Cured' Pope returns to Vatican (BBC 10/2/05)

Pope ready to leave hospital, Vatican says (ABC News/Reuters 10/2/05)
Ailing Pope, 'cured' of crisis, to leave the hospital Thursday, Vatican says (Associated Press/Canadian Press 10/2/05)
Pope gets all-clear, will leave hospital at 1:30 ET Today (Catholic Online/AFP 10/2/05)
In Rome, Poles show support for an ailing native son (Catholic News Service 9/2/05)
Little cancer patient knocks, and pope's hospital door finally opens (Catholic News Service 9/2/05)
Vatican says pope well enough to leave hospital (Catholic News Service 10/2/05)
Pope improved, returns to Vatican (Catholic World News 10/2/05)
Indian priest suspended for political campaign (Catholic World News 10/2/05)
Could a Bavarian Become Pope? (Deutsche Welle 10/2/05)
Pope is not a Catholic, claims writer (Ekklesia 10/2/05)
Vatican Is Own Hard-To-Penetrate World (The Herald-Sun Durham North Carolina/Associated Press 10/2/05)
Pope's Possible Resignation Sparks Debate (The Herald-Sun Durham North Carolina/Associated Press 10/2/05)
Ailing Pope to leave hospital (Sydney Morning Herald/Australian Associated Press 10/2/05)
Pope's discharge 'imminent' (The Advertiser/AFP 10/2/05)
Pope to leave hospital today (The Advertiser/Reuters 11/2/05)
Vatican divided as Pope recovers (The Australian/The Times/AP 11/2/05)
Vatican talk of the Pope's resignation out in open (Irish Independent 10/2/05)
Pope recovering: officials (SBS 10/2/05)
John Paul II Receives Ashes in Hospital (Zenit 9/2/05)
Cardinals Shrug Off the Idea of a Papal Resignation (Zenit 9/2/05)
Pope's Suffering Carries a Message, Says L'Arche Founder (Zenit 9/2/05)
Pope approves new plenary indulgence for year of the Eucharist ( 10/2/05)

11 Feb 2005