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Pope celebrates Mass in hospital room

Five days after a tracheotomy to relieve breathing problems, Pope John Paul II was able to say Mass in his hospital room, meet with aides and continue initial sessions of speech therapy.

Catholic News Service reports that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who brought the pope some papers to work on, told reporters yesterday that the pontiff had spoken to him - in two languages, German and Italian.

"The pope was able and alert, and he'll work on the things I brought him," said the cardinal, who heads the Vatican's doctrinal congregation.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls told reporters the same day that the pope's recovery was "completely normal" and that he had spent another peaceful night at Rome's Agostino Gemelli Polyclinic.

Navarro-Valls called the 84-year-old pope a "good patient" and said he was carrying on with breathing and speech rehabilitation exercises.

A day earlier, the spokesman had said the pope had no complications in his recovery phase and was in good condition.

The pope's ability to speak was one of the bigger question marks hanging over his recovery. Medical experts said that if the tracheotomy tube is left in, speech would be possible but more difficult for the pope and would not be as audible.

The Vatican has not said how long the pope is expected to remain in the hospital. Some church officials have said there should be no rush to return him to the Vatican.

Medical experts consider a tracheotomy a fairly routine operation, but given the pope's age and his frail condition the recovery period was expected to be longer than usual.

Insertion of a tracheotomy tube can be temporary or permanent. One Vatican source said he expected the tube to be left in to make it easier to deal with potential breathing problems in the future.

The tracheotomy compromises the pope's ability to speak. Dr. Fabrizio Stocchi, a neurological expert in Rome who chas been consulted in the past about the pope's condition, told Catholic News Service that the pope could talk again if the tracheotomy tube is closed, even temporarily, allowing air to pass through the vocal cords. But the voice level would be lower and making speeches would be difficult, he said.

Pope celebrates Mass in hospital room, meets with aides (Catholic News Service 1/3/05)

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Pope set for tracheotomy procedure (CathNews 25/2/05)
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Pope tells media to promote truth, not trash (CathNews 22/2/05)
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Pope says truth in media serves cause of peace (CathNews 26/3/03)

Pope Spoke in Two Languages With Top Vatican Official, Cardinal Says (Associated Press/TBO 1/3/05)
Vatican: Pope responding to therapy (Big News Network/UPI 28/2/05)
John L Allen - The pope's hospitalization: Five questions to ask at this time (National Catholic Reporter 28/2/05)
Pope's Outreach to Jews 'Will Continue' (The Scotsman 1/3/05)
Pope making steady progress, says Vatican (ABC/AFP 1/3/05)
Pope says Africans must work together to build continent's future (Catholic News Service 28/2/05)
Neurological expert says pope's tracheotomy complicates his lifestyle (Catholic News Service 28/2/05)
People send prayers, praise for pope while he is in hospital (Catholic News Service 28/2/05)
'Pope's condition improving' says Vatican spokesman (Catholic News Agency 1/3/05)
Vatican spokesperson says Pope's appearance Sunday was 'emotional for everyone' (Catholic News Agency 1/3/05)
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Pope's resiliency Angers Newsweek (Catholic News Agency 1/3/05)
Pope recovering, may be silenced for weeks (Catholic World News 1/3/05)
Prelate suggests Curia take greater role to aid Pope (Catholic World News 28/2/05)
No papal audience Wednesday (Catholic World News 1/3/05)
Pope is speaking, Cardinal Ratzinger reports (Catholic World News 1/3/05)
Angolan cardinal turns 80; 118 now eligible for conclave (Catholic World News 1/3/05)
The Pope's Angelus message: "It is by contemplating Christ and following him with patient trust that we come to understand that every form of human suffering holds within it God's promise of salvation and happiness". (Fides 28/2/05)
Roman Catholic Faithful Pray for Pope (The Guardian/Associated Press 1/3/05)
Pope begins voice therapy after op (Gulf Daily News 1/3/05)
Pope "getting better" (Missionary Service News Agency 1/3/05)
Cardinal Ratzinger: "pope can speak" (Missionary Service News Agency 1/3/05)
Pope Speaking Again, Working from Hospital (Reuters 1/3/05)
Pope improving steadily (The Courier Mail 2/3/05)
Pope able to speak (The Mercury 2/3/05)
Pontiff's general condition still `good' (Toronto Star 1/3/05)
Pope John Paul's prayer intentions for March (Vatican Information Service 1/3/05)
Recovering, John Paul II Begins Breathing Exercises (Zenit 28/2/05)
Pope's Improvement "Striking," Says Official (Zenit 28/2/05)
Cardinal Electors to Lose 2 in March (Zenit 28/2/05)
Where to Send E-mails to Pope (Zenit 28/2/05)

2 Mar 2005