Action Alert!

Time to start worrying about the Pope's health?

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Oct 24, 2011

Last week I advised CWN readers not to waste time worrying about the news that Pope Benedict was towed down the aisle on a rolling platform when he celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s basilica. It was obviously a concession to his advanced age, I said, but apparently nothing more.

This week brought a new report: The Pope is no longer scheduling one-on-one visits with the bishops making their ad limina visits.

OK, you can start worrying now.

There’s a perfectly plausible reason for the latest change in policy: to lighten the Pope’s schedule. Instead of a series of quick, rushed meetings with each of the visiting diocesan bishops, the Pope has decided to hold longer, more broad-ranging sessions with several bishops at a time. There’s nothing inherently alarming about the change. But coming just after the re-introduction of the rolling platform (which we know all too well from its use during the last years of Blessed John Paul II), it’s a clear indication that Vatican officials are on a drive to save the Pope’s energy—presumably because the physical demands of his work are taking their toll.

This is not a call to panic. There is no indication that the Holy Father is suffering from any severe ailment. But he is 84 now, and his health has never been robust. Even if simple fatigue is the main problem now, more serious problems may be coming soon.

Pope Benedict has much more work to do. Pray that he maintains the strength to do it.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: koinonia - Oct. 24, 2011 5:04 PM ET USA

    I have been concerned for some time. At 84 anything can happen at any time. And he has one of the more stressful jobs out there. What he has accomplished to date is not readily explainable in human terms, and his work to date has been most incredible from an historical perspective. Nonetheless, panic is not among the more Catholic courses to pursue, but prayer animated by faith can move mountains.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Oct. 24, 2011 4:41 PM ET USA

    We need to thank God for every second of Pope Benedict's reign that He has given us. He has done more to relieve the suffering of beleagured Catholics in these six years than Pope John Paul (may he rest in peace) did in 26.