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Catholic World News News Feature

Vatican Denies Pope Entering Hospital September 10, 1996

VATICAN CITY (CWN) - Chief Vatican spokesman Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls today quashed rumors among the Vatican press corps that Pope John Paul is about to enter the hospital because of several lingering illnesses.

"There are no plans for the Pope to enter hospital," Navarro-Valls said, responding to a report in the Italian press that the 76-year-old Pontiff would enter the hospital after a September 19-22 trip to France. Numerous rumors that the Holy Father would enter the hospital immediately or that the weekly Wednesday audience would be cancelled followed the initial Italian report.

The Vatican said the audience would go ahead as scheduled on Wednesday and that St. Peter's Square was being readied for the event, which usually attracts tens of thousands of pilgrims.

The Holy Father returned from a two-day visit to Hungary over the weekend in which journalists reported the Holy Father frequently looked tired and in pain. Navarro-Valls had engaged reporters in a frank discussion of the Holy Father's health before the trip, saying the Pope may undergo an invasive procedure to examine his abdomen.

A French newspaper also resurrected suggestions that the Holy Father has Parkinson's disease, a disabling nerve disease, as an explanation for the Pope's trembling left hand and frequently drooping left eyelid. In the past, the Vatican has said this was probably caused by nerve damage suffered in the 1981 shooting. But recently Navarro-Valls has begun suggesting to reporters that one possible explanation of the of Pope's trembling left hand was an "extrapyramidal" disorder, of which Parkinson's is one example.