DAILY CATHOLIC MONDAY December 21, 1998 vol. 9, no. 246
NEWS & VIEWS
POPE TEMPORARILY SIDELINED BY FLU
VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Pope John Paul II is suffering from a "mild flu," and all of his Friday meetings were canceled so that he could recover his strength in time for Christmas, the Vatican announced Friday.
The Vatican did not announce the Pope's original schedule for the day, so it is not generally known which meetings have been canceled. It is understood that the Holy Father would have met with Ahmed Esmat Abdel Meguid, the secretary general of the Arab League, who instead conferred privately with Cardinal Angelo Sodano.
The next scheduled public appearance for Pope John Paul II was scheduled for Sunday, December 19, when he would address his usual Angelus audience. If he was sufficiently recovered from the flu by Sunday, the Pope was expected to deliver some remarks about the bombing in Iraq.
The announcement of the Pope's illness caught reporters in Rome by surprise. He showed no particular signs of illness or fatigue during his public appearances on Thursday, when he met with a group of new ambassadors and later with the heads of the Roman Curia.
However, the Pope's doctors may be taking extra precautions to combat the flu immediately, in view of the heavy schedule set for the Pontiff during Christmas celebrations. In 1995, illness forced the Holy Father to abandon his plan to celebrate Mass during the day of Christmas (after having presided at midnight Mass in St. Peter's Basilica), and to spend several minutes resting to recover his strength before delivering the traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing after his Christmas message.
Because of his illness, for the first time during his pontificate, Pope John Paul II will not set aside a special time for meeting with his Polish countrymen on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day this year.
However, while that announcement will come as a disappointment to the Polish community in Rome, that disappointment may soon be eased by the announcement of another papal trip to his native land, according to Vatican sources. According to those sources, the preparations for a trip by Pope John Paul II to Poland are already well underway, and the public announcement could come at the beginning of 1999. The sources expect a trip of 10-12 days, probably beginning on June 5, and including stops in several Polish cities. During the trip the Pontiff will preside at ceremonies marking the millennium of the canonization of St. Adalbert, the patron of the country.
In past years, the Pope has always met with members of the Polish
community in Rome on either Christmas Eve or the evening of
Christmas Day. But this year-- apparently in an effort to conserve his
energy-- the Vatican has not scheduled such an encounter. The Pope
is expected to salute his countrymen-- among others-- during his
public audience on Wednesday, December 23.
Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
NEWS & VIEWS