Pope health concern in Slovakia

Pope John Paul II arrived in Slovakia on Thursday at the start of a four-day visit ... and immediately sparked rumours over his ailing health.

    Pope's visit is his third to the former Soviet republic

    Only one key public event has been scheduled each day. The pontiff is scheduled to travel from the capital as far as Roznava 400km to the east.
     
    Privately, some Vatican aides said on Thursday the visit may well be his last foreign trip for some time, if not for good.
      
    Poor health

    There were new health fears for Pope John Paul after he was unable to finish a speech marking his arrival in Slovakia.

    The pope could only read the first few sentences of his speech at Bratislava airport. Aides called on a Slovak priest to continue the reading.

    After several minutes of rest, the Pope then picked up the reading again.

    The pope suffers from Parkinson's disease and crippling hip and knee ailments, has appeared short of breath and his voice has been weak during recent public appearances.

    Warm welcome

    But in a welcoming address, Slovakian President Rudolf Schuster hailed him as a "high moral authority" who was bringing "a message of hope."

    More than 1000 people flocked to the airport fence to welcome him, waving Slovakian and yellow-and-white Vatican flags, as he was greeted by Slovakia's top state officials and Catholic leaders.
      
    It is his third visit to the former communist central European country and the 102nd foreign trip of his globetrotting quarter-century pontificate.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Explore how your country voted on global issues since 1946, as the world gears up for the 74th UN General Assembly.

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.