VATICAN CITY — Pope John Paul II entered a hospital Sunday for tests, and his spokesman said the pontiff had an intestinal problem that might require surgery.
Joaquin Navarro described the ailment as "intestinal dysfunction." He said the condition may be related to the stomach wound the Pope suffered during an assassination attempt in 1981 but that it still had not been determined.
During his regular Sunday noon appearance from a window of his study overlooking St. Peter's Square, the 72-year-old Pope startled the crowd when he said:
"I would like to tell you something confidentially. This evening I'm going to Gemelli Clinic for some diagnostic tests. I ask your prayers so that the Lord is near to me with his help and with his support."
A black Mercedes-Benz convertible with John Paul in the back seat drove up to the hospital main entrance at 7:25 p.m. The Pope waved to about 100 people who had gathered to await his arrival.
The Gemelli Clinic complex, about two miles north of the Vatican, is the same church-run hospital where the Pope was rushed for surgery May 13, 1981, after being shot during a public audience in St. Peter's Square.
Mehmet Ali Agca, a Turk, was captured on the spot, convicted of the shooting and is serving a life sentence in an Italian prison.