Pope in Turn for Worse with Fever, Infection
- Pope John Paul's fragile health took a sharp turn for the worse as he
developed a very high fever caused by a urinary infection, the
By Philip Pullella and Crispian Balmer
Slideshow: Pope John Paul II
Pope Has High Fever
Italian media said the 84-year-old Pontiff had received the sacrament for the sick and dying, commonly known as the Last Rites. It is given to the very seriously ill but does not necessarily mean death is imminent.
ill, very ill," an unnamed medical source was quoted as saying by
The Pope, who is struggling to recover from throat surgery, was not taken to hospital despite the gravity of the situation. One media report said he was too frail to be moved.
stayed at the Pontiff's bedside into the early hours of Friday morning as
hundreds of faithful gathered in
"The Holy Father was today stricken by a very
high fever provoked by what has been ascertained to be an infection of the
urinary tract," a
Ansa quoted medical sources as saying he Pope was responding to the medicine but that the situation was extremely severe.
Just hours earlier Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, seen as a possible successor to the Pontiff, told the Austrian news agency APA that the Pope was "approaching, as far as a person can tell, the end of his life."
Schoenborn said he hoped for the Pope's sake that "the moment of relief comes for him."
The Pope's health deteriorated suddenly a day after doctors inserted a feeding tube from his nose into his stomach to try to boost his strength. Italian media reported that his temperature leapt to around 104 F in the late afternoon.
someone has advanced Parkinson's disease they're at risk from opportunistic
infections because of their debilitated condition," said Dr David Charles,
a neurologist at
"Most die from some other acute condition, whether pneumonia or a urinary tract infection," Charles said.
heard the news, and we're here to pray. We feel we need to be close to the Pope
right now," said Sister Antonia, a nun from
Once before, in 1981, he received the Last Rites after being shot by an would-be assassin.
The Polish-born Pontiff underwent throat surgery on Feb. 24 to insert a tube into his windpipe to help air flow into his lungs. Once dubbed the "Great Communicator," he has been unable to speak in public since.
The feeding tube was added on Wednesday because the Parkinson's disease was affecting his muscles and making it difficult for him to swallow.
third longest-serving pope in Roman Catholic history spent 28 days in
"Hardly anyone thinks the situation will improve but everyone is hoping for a miracle," said one official.
of the Pope's major legacies, according to historians, will be his role in the
fall of communism in
over a decade later, the Pope fulfilled another of his dreams. He visited the
Holy Land in March 2000, and, praying at
A tireless traveler, hailed as "God's Athlete," he has clocked up some 1.25 million km (775,000 miles) in 104 foreign trips to some 130 countries. A familiar figure across the globe, the Pope has drawn crowds of up to four million people.
He has seemed as much at ease lecturing dictators of the left and the right as he has telling leaders of world democracies that unbridled capitalism and globalization are no panacea for the world's post-Cold War problems.
Critics, however, have attacked his traditionalist stance on family issues, such as his condemnation of contraception.
A former actor who wrote several plays, John Paul has used his mastery of timing, levity and languages to communicate as few other modern world figures have done.