Pope's Condition Seen Improving; Will Be in Hospital for 'Few Days'
Byline: John Phillips, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
ROME - Pope John Paul II's condition stabilized yesterday, and he will undergo treatment for the flu "for another few days" after being rushed by ambulance to Rome's Gemelli Polyclinic fighting for breath, the Vatican said yesterday.
Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the Vatican chief spokesman, said the 84-year-old pontiff's heart and lungs were "within normal limits"
The pope had been driven to the hospital from the Vatican state under heavy escort on Tuesday night with complications that developed dramatically from flu, raising alarm among the world's estimated 1 billion Roman Catholics.
The Holy See in the past has denied or played down the gravity of papal illnesses to avoid precipitating a power struggle among cardinals over the successor to St. Peter's throne.
But Dr. Navarro-Valls, a Spanish medical school graduate who belongs to the conservative Opus Dei movement, insisted in remarks to a throng of reporters at the hospital that "there is no reason for alarm today" about Pope John Paul II's illness.
He said the pope yesterday morning was celebrating Mass in his special room on the 10th floor of the hospital, where he has been treated several times for several ailments that periodically have marred his long papacy.
These have included wounds sustained from an assassination attempt by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca, who shot the pontiff in St. Peter's Square in 1981. The pope had an operation to remove a tumor described as benign and "as big as an orange" from his stomach in 1992. …