The Corner

Defying “Death Watch”

Catching up on the media coverage of the celebrations in Rome after

arriving home from there last evening, I thought I would share my own observations given the persistent attention to the pope’s physical condition. Pope John Paul celebrated the two-hour anniversary Mass on Thursday evening, including delivering the homily. Although his voice was strong throughout, his words would become indistinct with the effort of speaking. Still, it

was clear that he was fully engaged with the ceremony and with those

fortunate enough to approach him on the altar. At the conclusion of the

service, he remained in front of the crowd, waving to the thousands

calling out to him. On Sunday too, at the almost three-hour Mass for

the beatification of Mother Teresa, although his voice sometimes failed

him, he celebrated the Mass and acknowledged the faithful with obvious

pleasure. There was a concert in honor of his anniversary on Friday

evening that the pope clearly enjoyed. Again, he made his remarks

unassisted at its conclusion, having been earlier seen to be reviewing

his text. Finally, at a public audience on Monday afternoon, he

personally greeted about 30 individuals who had been close to Mother

Teresa, after addressing the crowd, and turned to give a strong wave to

the audience before departing the stage. Although the pope’s has been

physically weakened by Parkinson’s disease, it seems to me that the

breathless coverage about the state of the pope’s health is off the

mark. It discounts the inner strength and indomitable will of a

remarkable personality who can be expected to confound all the gloomy

predictions about his imminent demise.

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