Wednesday, March 15, 2006

"Lasciatemi Andare"

Hard to believe, but in two weeks it'll be a year since John Paul II went on to the house of the Father.... I'm gearing up for the flood of anniversary coverage.

Coming right off the consistory and going right into B16's first birthday (and Joseph Ratzinger's 79th), it's going to be April Madness.

Anyways, a new book on John Paul's last days has hit the stands in Rome. Among its contributors: Cardinal-designate Stanislaw Dziwisz and the Wojtyla favorite Archbishop Angelo Comastri, the vicar-general of Vatican City.

In an excerpt cited in today's Corriere della Sera, the late Pope's physician said that at the time of his tracheotomy six weeks before his death, John Paul compared himself to Vittorio Bachelet, a leader of Italian Catholic Action who was assassinated by the Red Brigades in 1982.

This, however, is from Reuters:
Pope John Paul II often played down his ailments and was reluctant to receive medical treatment, according to a book by some of his closest aides, including his personal physician.

Excerpts of the book, published by Italian newspapers on Wednesday, also show the Vatican knew the late Pope had the symptoms of Parkinson's disease since 1991, but kept quiet about it for five years.

The book, whose title "Let Me Go" is drawn from the pontiff's last words before dying last April 2, includes a detailed account of the Pope's medical history by his longtime doctor, Renato Buzzonetti.

Buzzonetti said the Pope, who in 1992 underwent surgery to remove a large intestinal tumor that was starting to turn malignant, had kept silent about his symptoms and pain for months and initially refused an emergency procedure recommended by his doctors.

He had already had a major abdominal operation in 1981 after an assassination attempt.

In 1994, when the Pope slipped in his bath at the Vatican and broke his right thigh bone, his aides had to convince him to cancel a trip to Sicily scheduled for the next day.

Two years later, the Pope's reluctance to undergo surgery again as well as his many engagements meant the removal of his inflamed appendix, which had caused him recurring fever and abdominal pain, had to be "continuously postponed".

Also in 1996, during a papal visit to Hungary in which John Paul appeared fatigued, a Vatican spokesman said for the first time that the Pope was suffering from a "extrapyramidal neurological disorder". The Vatican officially acknowledged it was Parkinson's disease only in 2003.