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Pope to have mountain named after him

Pope John Paul II will have a 2400 metre mountain in central Italy's Gran Sasso range named for him on 18 May, his 85th birthday.

"We decided on the Gran Sasso because the Pope visited it many times in order to get some rest as well as to pray," said Monsignor Casolini, a member of the Abruzzo region committee which launched the initiative.

The Gran Sasso range is the highest set of peaks in the Appennines in the Abruzzo region.

John Paul reportedly told pilgrims in St. Peter's Square once that in the Bible, mountains "were considered a special place to meet God."

Meanwhile Catholic News Service reported yesterday that the Holy Father's "abbreviated and poignant" Holy Week appearances have "left many people worried about his health and wondering about his future schedule".

After the pope was unable to pronounce even an Easter blessing to a crowd of 70,000 in St. Peter's Square, newspapers around the world expressed alarm and said it was clear the pope's recovery from a tracheotomy was not going well.

The Vatican has not issued a statement on the pope's health since 10 March, three days before he was released from the hospital. Nor has the Vatican announced any schedule of papal events after Easter. The pontiff skipped a traditional noon blessing on Easter Monday, and no explanation was given. The presumption was that the pope would not be resuming his regular program of audiences any time soon.

Two doctors, however, had some consoling comments to make after seeing the pontiff on Easter.

"From what is emerging, we are reasonably calm about the postoperative progress of the pope," Dr. Renato Buzzonetti, the pope's personal physician, told the Rome's La Repubblica newspaper La Repubblica on Monday. He declined to elaborate.

Dr Fabrizio Stocchi, a neurological expert in Rome whom the Vatican has consulted in the past, said people's expectations about the pope's recovery may have been too high.

"Considering the pope's age, his health history and the surgery he's had, I think his recovery so far could even be called a success," Stocchi told Catholic News Service March yesterday. "People may have to realise that, while he may have better days and worse days, this is the pope we will have: one who cannot talk much if at all, and one who is able to do much less than before."

Pope to have mountain named for him (Catholic News Agency 29/3/05)
Pope's appearances leave many wondering about his health, future (Catholic News Service 29/3/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Gran Sasso

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Pope to get 'own' mountain peak (BBC 23/3/05)
Heavy speculation on Pope's health (Catholic World News 29/3/05)
Pope Leads Catholic Church With New Image (Associated Press/Gadsden Times 29/3/05)
Report: Pope May Return to Italy Hospital (The Herald-Sun Durham North Carolina/Associated Press 29/3/05)
Pontiff set for hospital return (Herald-Sun 30/3/05)
George Weigel: From his sickbed, the Pope is delivering an age-old message (Sydney Morning Herald 30/3/05)
Pope's health worries faithful (The Australian/AFP 29/3/05)

30 Mar 2005