The Pope is reported to be recovering well from an operation to relieve severe breathing difficulties.The eyes of the Catholic world are on Rome’s Gemelli medical centre, with the Vatican trying to allay fears over John Paul II’s failing health. The 84-year-old is not using an artificial respirator, and his heart and blood circulation are said to be good. Last night the Pontiff underwent a tracheotomy after suffering a relapse of the flu. Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who said the Pope had slept well and even eaten breakfast, gave an upbeat assessment: “The post operative situation continues regularly. He is breathing on his own and cardio-circulatory conditions remain good. Upon the advice of his doctors the Pope must not speak for several days so as to favour the recovery of the functions of the larynx. In this situation I think that we will release a new bulletin on the condition of the Holy Father in two days time,” he said. Medical experts have been less positive about the Pope’s chances of getting better given that he suffers from Parkinson’s disease, which affects the muscles of the chest and throat. He is also at risk from bronchial pneumonia and is vulnerable to minor infections.