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Cardinal urges pope to keep World Youth Day commitment


Germany's Cardinal Coachim Meisner has told Pope John Paul II not to worry if he cannot speak with the young people at the August World Youth Day in Cologne, as his presence is what is most important.

Speaking to the Pope in his hospital room in Rome, Cardinal Meisner said "everybody is waiting for the Holy Father to be in Cologne in August".

The cardinal told reporters that the Pope "had a much stronger voice than I expected," and had told him: "I'm happy that you are here".

The Vatican had already pencilled in the trip to Cologne next August, but John Paul II's second hospitalisation in a month for flu-related breathing difficulties has cast doubt on whether he would be well enough to make what would be his 105th foreign visit as pope.

While the cardinal met the pontiff in his rooms on the Gemelli's 10th floor, fervent Polish pilgrims, noisy American students and two choirs kept up a cacophany of chanted prayers, hymns and slogans outside the hospital.

Despite chanting from wellwisher outside, as well as prayers and choral tributes, the shutters on the pope's windows remained closed, dashing hopes that the pope might make an unscheduled appearance to bless the crowd, as he did last Sunday.

Traditionally the pope holds a general audience Wednesdays at the Vatican, either in St Peter's Basilica or in the Square, depending on the weather. Last Wednesday he kept the date by video link.

The Vatican is due to give an update on the pope's condition today. The last health bulletin, issued on Monday, said he was improving and had begun speech therapy following a tracheotomy to relieve his breathing problems.

On Tuesday, top Vatican Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said after meeting briefly with the pope at his bedside that the pontiff was "fully alert" and able to speak a few words, both in Italian and in German.

SOURCE
Cardinal urges pope to keep World Youth Day promise (AFP/Yahoo 3/3/05)

LINKS
World Youth Day Cologne 2005

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Cardinal says Pope better than expected (ABC News 2/3/05)
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Cardinal reports, Pope is speaking, voice is 'strong,' may go to Germany in August (Catholic News Agency 2/3/05)
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Pope's presence seen key to World Youth Day (Catholic World News 2/3/05)
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Pope able to speak after surgery: Vatican (The Age 3/3/05)
Pope able to speak after surgery: Vatican (The Age 3/3/05)
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Two cardinals visit the Holy Father (Vatican Information Service 2/3/05)
Pope Concelebrates Mass and Speaks With Cardinal (Zenit 1/3/05)
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3 Mar 2005