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The condition of Pope John Paul II "continues to improve"
The condition of Pope John Paul II, hospitalized since last week for breathing problems, "continues to improve," the Vatican has said in a statement. Papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls also told The Associated Press on Thursday "it's possible" the pope might be back at the Vatican in time for Easter celebrations on March 27, reports CNN News. Navarro-Valls has said the pope is anxious to return to the Vatican by the end of the month but that the 84-year-old pontiff is listening to his doctors' advice. The pope continues to show progress, is eating regularly and is spending a few hours each day sitting up in an armchair, the Vatican statement said. According to Bloomberg, the leader of the world's 1 billion Roman Catholics was rushed to the clinic for the second time last month after a relapse of the influenza that caused larynx spasms and restricted his breathing. After the initial attack earlier in February, the pope was hospitalized for nine days. This is the 10th time the pope has been hospitalized at the Gemelli. While John Paul II is in a hurry to leave hospital, he is heeding the advice of his doctors, Navarro-Valls said. The Vatican will decide on March 5 whether the pope will try to deliver his March 6 Sunday blessing, known as the Angelus. The pope's Feb. 27 blessing was read by an aide, the first time in his 26-year reign that the pontiff failed to give the blessing. John Paul II has Parkinson's disease, a degenerative neural condition that slurs his speech and confines him to a wheelchair. He survived an assassination attempt in 1981. He had surgery to remove a benign tumor on his intestines in 1992. Polish-born Karol Josef Wojtyla is the third longest-serving pontiff. He is the first non-Italian pope since Adrian VI more than 400 years ago.
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