The Vatican has announced that Pope John Paul is in a stable but critical condition after suffering heart failure.The pontiff this morning received last rites, and decided not to go to hospital. He is being treated by specialists in his private apartments at the Vatican. “The situation is stable but still very grave,” said the Vatican spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls. “Biological parameters have changed, his blood pressure is unstable, but the Pope is still lucid and is serene. This morning he requested that passages from the bible be read to him, and he followed the text perfectly well.” Hundreds of people have gathered in St Peter’s Square, as news spread that the84-year-old underwent cardio-respiratory assistance. Senior officials earlier said the pontiff’s life appeared to be slipping away.