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Pope hoping to be home for Easter

Papal spokesperson Joaquin Navarro-Valls has spoken to reporters for the first time in days, commenting on the Holy Father's continuing sojourn in Rome's Gemelli hospital, where he underwent a tracheotomy to ease breathing difficulties.

Pope John Paul II "continues to improve and show progress," the Vatican spokesman said.

"The surgical wound is healing," spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls told reporters yesterday. The pope was hospitalised on 24 February and underwent the tracheotomy, in which a tube is placed in the trachea through a hole cut in the throat.

The papal spokesman said the pope was continuing his "active collaboration" in exercises designed to help him breathe and to speak.

In addition to having resumed meetings with top Vatican aides and receiving visitors, the spokesman said the pope spends "much time in both the morning and afternoon" in the small chapel in the suite of rooms set aside for him on the 10th floor of Agostino Gemelli Polyclinic.

Navarro-Valls refused to estimate how long Pope John Paul would remain in the hospital.

"There still is no precise date and I do not want to give a probable date given the fact that it could change positively or negatively," he said.

Asked whether it would be before Easter - 27 March - he said, "It is possible."

Asked later if the Vatican's Holy Week and Easter schedule, published in mid-January before the pope got sick, would be changed drastically, the spokesman said the Holy Week and Easter liturgies "are fixed."

"The pope must decide, once he has returned, the way he will participate in these ceremonies. But at the moment, nothing has been decided," he said.

One week after tracheotomy, pope 'continues to improve,' Vatican says (Catholic News Service 3/3/05)

Cardinal urges pope to keep World Youth Day commitment (CathNews 4/3/05)
Pope celebrates Mass in hospital room (CathNews 2/3/05)
Chilean cardinal to announce Pope's successor (CathNews 1/3/05)
Pell backs Pope resolve to carry on (CathNews 28/2/05)
Pope set for tracheotomy procedure (CathNews 25/2/05)
Mixed signals on Pope recovery (CathNews 23/2/05)
New Pope book hits Jewish sensitivities (ICathNews 21/2/05)
Pope tells media to promote truth, not trash (CathNews 22/2/05)
Vatican official urges effort to reach lapsed Catholics (CathNews 4/6/04)
Pope again encourages use of Internet for evangelisation (CathNews 18/2/04)
Vatican official urges advertising that promotes human dignity (CathNews 29/10/03)
64% in US use Internet for religious reasons (CathNews 19/5/04)
Pope says truth in media serves cause of peace (CathNews 26/3/03)

Pope is in full command of his mental faculties, says Cardinal ( 3/3/05)
Pope May Be Out of Hospital Before Easter (The Scotsman 3/3/05)
New Image of Papacy Emerging From Vatican (Associated Press/Yahoo 2/3/05)
Pope's health continually improving: Vatican (ABC/Reuters 3/3/05)
Pope could live for years but needs lots of rest (Reuters 2/3/05)
Pope: no change to Easter schedule ( 3/3/05)
Church unprepared for papal incapacitation, canon lawyers say (Catholic News Service 2/3/05)
Pope improving steadily, collaborating in daily activity of the Church, says Vatican (Catholic News Agency 3/3/05)
Archbishop says Pope bears suffering with greater dignity than "The Sea Inside" (Catholic News Agency 3/3/05)
Pope's hospitalisation casts shadow over Easter preparations (Channel NewsAsia/AFP 3/3/05)
Pope 'may return to Vatican by Easter' (CNN 3/3/05)
Pope's medical condition updated (Catholic World News 3/3/05)
Pope still plans trip to World Youth Day (Catholic World News 3/3/05)
Text of Medical Bulletin Released Vatican (Gadsden Times 3/3/05)
Patriarch Alexy II wishes Pope quick recovery (InterFax 3/3/05)
Pope's health improving steadily (Missionary Service News Agency 3/3/05)
The pope of the divided heart: Brazilian cardinal reflects on his relationship with John Paul II (National Catholic Reporter 4/3/05)
Bookies Open Betting on Pope's Successor (Online Casino News)
Pope Improving But Easter Participation in Doubt (Reuters 3/3/05)
Positive health report for Pope (Sydney Morning Herald 4/3/05)
May the Christian community grow in love for the Eucharist (Vatican Information Service 3/3/05)
Pope improving steadily, meeting with collaborators (Vatican Information Service 3/3/05)
Pope May be Discharged from Hospital by Easter (Voice of America 3/3/05)
Pope Keen to Go Home, but Can't Yet (UPI/ 3/3/05)
Cardinal Meisner Thinks Pope Will Make It to Germany (Zenit 2/3/05)
Pope Back to Appointing Bishops (Zenit 2/3/05)
Envoys From Orthodox Lands Give Pope an Icon (Zenit 2/3/05)
U.N. Official Sends Greetings to John Paul II (Zenit 2/3/05)

4 Mar 2005