DAILY CATHOLIC    TUESDAY     May 19, 1998     vol. 9, no. 97

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

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78TH BIRTHDAY FOR JOHN PAUL

          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Pope John Paul II celebrated his 78th birthday yesterday, apparently confident that despite the obvious effects of aging, he will lead the Church into the 21st century.

          The Pope celebrated his birthday quietly, enjoying a cake along with his staff in the papal apartments. No public ceremony took place to mark the date.

          Sunday, on a visit to a parish north of Rome, the Pope joked with youngsters about his advancing age, admitting, "I think of myself as an old priest." But he cautioned: "Remember that once I was just like one of you, and one day you will be like me."

          Although his bearing is certainly less erect, and his stride much less certain, than it was several years ago, Pope John Paul is no longer the subject of constant rumors about his health. In fact, most observers agree that his condition has stabilized since the difficult autumn of 1996, when a appendix operation provoked a flurry of rumors that he was mortally ill. In fact, the trembling in his left hand-- which most doctors assume is a symptom of Parkinson's disease, although the Vatican has never officially admitted that the Holy Father is suffering from that illness-- seems less pronounced today than it was a year ago.

          Since his last hospitalization in October 1996, the Pope has undertaken eight international trips, including several in which he endured extreme weather conditions; he came through those trips without undue signs of strain.


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May 19, 1998       volume 9, no. 97
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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