It has been dubbed “The Third Vatican.” The Pope is back in Rome’s Gemelli Hospital where he is being treated for the tenth time since taking on the top job in the Roman Catholic Church in 1978. The faithful are once again being urged to pray for the pontiff, just two weeks after his apparent cure from breathing difficulties brought on by influenza. It was February 10 when Pope John Paul left the Gemelli. Catholics around the world were reassured to see him waving to the crowds as his motorcade made its way through the streets.But the deterioration in his health has revived fears that one of the longest and most historic papacies might now be drawing to a close.
Can the Pope continue, it is being asked, if he has lost the ability to speak? The man himself believes the job is God-given and only God can decide when his mission is over. And, for the moment at least, Vatican officials are doing their utmost to play down any speculation to the contrary.