Vatican denies unsourced Italian report on pope’s health

Vatican denies unsourced Italian report on pope’s health

[“Methinks he doth protest too much”]

David Gibson Religion News Service | Oct. 21, 2015

VATICAN CITY The Vatican on Wednesday categorically denied a story from an Italian newspaper that Pope Francis has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, calling the report “unfounded” and “seriously irresponsible.”

The brief and unsourced story was published late Tuesday on the website of Quotidiano Nazionale, or National Daily, which said only that a small tumor was discovered “months” ago and that no surgery would be required.

The scoop was quickly called into question, in part because the story provided so few details and because the Vatican has been swirling with rumors this month during an intense and contentious debate over church teachings among 270 bishops gathered for a global synod on the family.

The synod has featured unusually open arguments and no small amount of public sniping among churchmen, as well as revelations of a secret letter to the pope and accusations of behind-the-scenes “rigging” and “manipulation.”

Now add to that melodramatic mix this report about the health of Francis, who turns 79 in December.

“The spread of the totally unfounded news of the health condition of the Holy Father on the part of an Italian news agency is seriously irresponsible and not worthy of attention,” said Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, head of the Vatican press office. “Also, as all can see, the Pope continues to exercise his intense activity without interruption and in an absolutely normal way.”

In an interview with another Italian newspaper, the editor of National Daily, Andrea Cangini, said the Vatican denial was “understandable and expected.”

He stood behind the report and said the editors had debated among themselves about whether to publish the news and ultimately decided they had a responsibility to the public to do so.

According to QN, the papal helicopter was seen landing near Pisa several months ago, and Francis is said to have visited a Japanese doctor there, Takanori Fukushima, who is a specialist in brain tumors and aneurysms. Fukushima reportedly indicated no surgery would be required.

The vice director of the Vatican press office, Passionist Fr. Ciro Benedettini, told reporters Wednesday that the pope is visiting the towns of Florence and Prato near Pisa next month, and the papal helicopter had been in the area to prepare for the trip.

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3 comments on “Vatican denies unsourced Italian report on pope’s health

  1. Explains a lot: Pope Francis has a treatable brain tumor? Vatican furiously denies.

    October 21, 2015
    Posted by Tantumblogo
    A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics

    As Rorate noted on Twitter, how sad that after years of press manipulation and frequent double-dealing with the faithful, many now seriously doubt the Vatican’s denials.

    Italian media is reporting Pope Francis has a treatable brain tumor. The Vatican is denying this claim in the strongest terms, but the media are standing by their claims. Normally I wouldn’t cover such a one off rumor, but given the enormous ramifications if true I thought I’d mention it. One can easily discern huge implications for the Synod and much else besides if there is even fair reason to expect that Pope Francis may be debilitated in any way. If his pontificate were likely to be either severely inhibited or forecast to come to an end within a year or two, that could change the calculus of many a politically-focused but doctrinally indifferent bishop. Coupled with claims that were a conclave held today, Pope Francis wouldn’t get 10 votes, and even more, that ostensibly 75% of Synod fathers are strongly opposed to the radical departures from Doctrine of the “Kasperite” (should it be Franciscan?) set, it could mean that most bishops would just choose to ride this pontificate out in the expectation that won’t be more than a handful of years.

    It’s all just speculation, of course, but something to keep in mind, nonetheless:

    The Vatican on Wednesday dismissed an Italian media report that Pope Francis has a treatable brain tumour as “unfounded and seriously irresponsible.”

    Quotidiano Nazionale (QN), the newspaper which made the claim, said it stood by its story that a “small dark spot” had been detected on the 78-year-old pontiff’s brain earlier this year.

    The paper said it was discovered by Japanese physician Takanori Fukushima during an examination at the San Rossore di Barbaricina clinic near Pisa in central Italy.

    The professor reportedly concluded that the tumour was treatable and that no surgery was required.

    “The publication of completely unfounded reports on the health of the holy father by an Italian newspaper is seriously irresponsible and not worthy of attention,” Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said in a statement.

    “As everyone can see, the pope continues to engage in his intense activity without any interruption and in absolutely normal fashion.”

    Andrea Cangini, the director of Quotidiano, said he had expected the Vatican’s statement.

    “This denial is understandable and expected,” he said. “We waited a long time before publishing the report in order to carry out every possible check. We don’t have the slightest doubt that it is founded.”

    Am I remembering right, that the Vatican downplayed Pope JPII’s very visible physical degeneration, as well?


    So, will you be praying intensely for the health of Pope Francis [and the Church]?

  2. If this is true you would think the current occupant of the Chair of Peter would be more apt to defend the de-fide dogmas of Holy Mother Church instead of trying to water them down?!

    Considering his particular judgement might not be that far away with this medical condition, and his age.

    Prayers for his physical health, but more importantly for his spiritual health.

  3. The Vatican on Wednesday dismissed an Italian media report that Pope Francis has a brain as “unfounded and seriously irresponsible.”

    There. Fixed it.

    May his reign be short.

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