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Nasal feeding tube fixed to Pope

Pope John Paul II is receiving supplementary nutrition through a feeding tube as he continues his "slow and progressive" recovery, the Vatican has announced.

Papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said yesterday that a nasogastric tube was inserted in order to improve the pope's caloric intake and help him regain his strength.

The pope underwent a tracheotomy to relieve breathing problems in late February. He is also believed to have Parkinson's disease, which often causes difficulty in swallowing.

The written announcement came just a few hours after the Holy Father made a surprise appearance at his studio window to bless thousands of pilgrims gathered below in St. Peter's Square. The pope had also tried to speak to the crowd using a microphone, but the few syllables he uttered were incomprehensible.

"The Holy Father continues his slow and progressive convalescence," Navarro-Valls said in a written statement. "The pope spends many hours of the day in an armchair, celebrates Mass in his private chapel and stays in working contact with his collaborators, directly following the activity of the Holy See and the life of the church," Navarro-Valls wrote.

Navarro-Valls said the pope's medical care continued to be provided by his personal doctor, Renato Buzzonetti.

A Vatican official said the feeding tube was being used to offer additional nutrition. He said the pope could continue eating and drinking. The tube was inserted just after the pope's public appearance at his studio window yesterday, said the official.

Meanwhile Italian newspapers are reporting that the files of the old East German secret service contain documents confirming that the Soviet Union ordered the 13 May 1981 attempt on the life of Pope John Paul II.

Catholic World News says that two newspapers, Corriere della Sera and Il Giornale , are reporting that files from the Stasi, the East German spy agency, confirm the suspicions long held by Vatican officials. Documents in newly opened files show that the KGB, the Soviet spy agency, ordered the assassination attempt, which was carried out by the Bulgarian secret service.

Dimitar Tzonev, a spokesman for the Bulgarian government, said that officials in Sofia are ready to hand over their secret-service archives to the Italian commission charged with investigating the assassination attempt, which was carried out by Mehmet Ali Agca. An Italian parliamentary commission is also carrying out an investigation of KGB recruitment in Italy.

Vatican says pope gets feeding tube to improve caloric intake (Catholic News Service 30/3/05)
KGB ordered Pope's assassination, new documents show (Catholic World News 30/3/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Nasogastric tube (

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Pope's appearances leave many wondering about his health, future (Catholic News Service 29/3/05)
Pope receives feeding tube, Vatican calls recovery 'slow and progressive' (Catholic News Agency 30/3/05)
Pope tries to speak but gives silent blessing to crowd in St. Peter's Square (Catholic News Agency 30/3/05)
Pope Fed via Nasal Tube as He Fails Again to Speak to Crowd (Christian Today 30/3/05)
Pope being fed through a tube (CNN 30/3/05)
Heavy speculation on Pope's health (Catholic World News 29/3/05)
Pope gets feeding tube (Catholic World News 30/3/05)
1981 attack on Pope planned by Soviets: Report (Agence France-Presse/Hindustan Times 30/3/05)
Pope gives blessing without speaking (Missionary Service News Agency 30/3/05)
Pope getting nutrition from feeding tube (Associated Press/Sydney Morning Herald 30/3/05)
Pope fed through nasal tube (Agence France-Presse/The Australian 30/3/05)
Pope to feed and breathe via tubes (The Australian/The Times 31/3/05)
Fears that Pope may never speak again as doctors consider surgery (Irish Independent 30/3/05)
Pope: Light of the Risen Christ conquers darkness of evil (Vatican Information Service 30/3/05)
Pope appears at window, blesses faithful in silence (Vatican Information Service 30/3/05)
Pope's convalesence slow, eating assisted by gastic tube (Vatican Information Service 30/3/05)

31 Mar 2005