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Ailing Pope Will Undergo Appendectomy, Vatican Says

September 15, 1996|From Times Wire Services

VATICAN CITY — In a bid to combat rumors about the pope's health, the Vatican announced Saturday that John Paul II is suffering from an inflamed appendix and will have it removed later this year.

In a statement that finally disclosed what has been ailing the 76-year-old pope recently, the Vatican said there were no signs of a recurrence of an intestinal tumor removed in 1992.

The pope's condition "is not urgent," said Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls. He said John Paul will make a scheduled four-day trip to France this week.

No date was set for the appendectomy, but Navarro indicated it would take place sometime after Oct. 6, when John Paul is scheduled to lead a beatification ceremony in St. Peter's Square.

Navarro made no mention of another problem--the pope's sometimes violently trembling left hand. The shaking has sparked media speculation that he has Parkinson's disease and might consider resigning if debilitated by a drawn-out illness.

The Vatican has denied that John Paul has Parkinson's but made no specific mention Saturday of the tremor.

In recent months John Paul has often grimaced in pain and seems to tire easily. On Christmas, he became nauseous while reading holiday wishes to a worldwide TV audience.

The appendectomy would be the pope's sixth surgery since he became pontiff in 1978.

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