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Era of 'video-pope' approaches

There is increasing speculation that while Pope John Paul II may be back at the Vatican, his future public appearances may largely be limited to video-links, with observers predicting that the days of thousands of pilgrims being able to see the pope in person may be coming to an end.

An Agence France Presse report says the 84-year-old pope, who left Rome's Gemelli hospital on Sunday Rome time, 18 days after undergoing throat surgery, must now do and speak as little as possible to prevent another relapse, doctors said.

Some said he should even have stayed in hospital.

Vatican spokesperson Joaquin Navarro-Valls said on Sunday that although the pope was not cured, he was returning to the Vatican to "continue his convalescence".

"I advise him to rest and speak as little as possible. Enough thinking about audiences," was the blunt assessment of Corrado Manni, an anaesthetist and veteran of several of John Paul II's seven surgical operations.

"Personally, I would have preferred had he stayed in hospital a week or two more," said Giancarlo Cianfrone, a doctor specialising in speech problems at Rome's La Sapienza university.

To avoid the risk of infection or a new bout of flu, the pope is understood to have been advised by doctors reluctant to let him leave the Gemelli to minimise his contact with the outside world, and if possible, reduce his audiences to a minimum.

That has raised the spectre of the pope being forced to rely on video-link to be seen by his flock of one billion Roman Catholics around the world.

Already mindful of this before the pope's readmission to the Gemelli on 24 February with a relapse of the flu and attendant breathing difficulties, the Vatican has already experimented with a video-link.

Pilgrims had a taste of things to come on 23 February, the day before the pope returned to hospital, when the already apparent risk of a relapse caused them to restrict the pope's weekly general audience to a video-link.

Era of 'video-pope' approaches ( 14/3/05)

Pope returns home from hospital (CathNews 14/3/05)
Pell says distance creates Australian uncertainty about Pope's health (CathNews 14/3/05)
Pope to come home for Holy Week (CathNews 11/3/05)
Pope a non-starter for Holy Week (CathNews 9/3/05)
Pope told to use gestures to spare voice (CathNews 8/3/05)
Pope's message to Berlusconi on hero Nicola Calipari (CathNews 7/3/05)
Pope hoping to be home for Easter (CathNews 4/3/05)
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's recent health problems shine spotlight on a TV story that's been years in the making (Associated Press/The Morning Sun 14/3/05)
Pope's throat tube may stay (Daily Telegraph 15/3/05)
Blair courts evangelicals as Catholics back HowardThe Guardian 14/3/05)
Era of Video-Pope fast approaching (ABC/AFP 14/3/05)
To cheers from the faithful, pope returns to Vatican (Catholic News Service 13/3/05)
Pope of few words is back at the Vatican after his hospitalization (Associated Press/CBC 14/3/05)
Pope returns to Vatican (Catholic World News 14/3/05)
Pope thanks media for hospital coverage (Catholic World News 14/3/05)
Pope stresses need for sacramental confession (Catholic World News 14/3/05)
African cardinal calls John Paul II "the Great" (Catholic World News 14/3/05)
Pope appoints leaders for October Synod meeting (Catholic World News 14/3/05)
Pope on light duties (Herald-Sun 15/3/05)
NZ couple to be leaders of Marriage Encounter (NZ Catholic--temporary url 13/3/05)
Questions over Pope's future workload (The Age/Australian Associated Press 14/3/05)
Pope welcomed home to Vatican (The Australian 15/3/05)
Pope warned of relapse threat (The Mercury/AFP 14/3/05)
Mark Henderson: An embryo that went on growing (The Times 14/3/05)
Pope Returns to Vatican Amid Cheers (Zenit 13/3/05)
Pope Thanks Media for "Appreciated Service" (Zenit 13/3/05)
A Thank You to the Mass Media (Zenit 13/3/05)

15 Mar 2005